The use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives (mHealth) has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe. A powerful combination of factors is driving this change. These include rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, a rise in new opportunities for the integration of mobile health into existing eHealth services, and the continued growth in coverage of mobile cellular networks. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there are now over 5 billion wireless subscribers; over 70% of them reside in low- and middleincome countries. The GSM Association reports commercial wireless signals cover over 85% of the world’s population, extending far beyond the reach of the electrical grid.
For the first time the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) has sought to determine the status of mHealth in Member States; its 2009 global survey contained a section specifically devoted to mHealth. Completed by 114 Member States, the survey documented for analysis four aspects of mHealth: adoption of initiatives, types of initiatives, status of evaluation, and barriers to implementation. Fourteen categories of mHealth services were surveyed: health call centres, emergency toll-free telephone services, managing emergencies and disasters, mobile telemedicine, appointment reminders, community mobilization and health promotion, treatment compliance, mobile patient records, information access, patient monitoring, health surveys and data collection, surveillance, health awareness raising, and decision support systems.
Source: World Health Organization, June 2011