Application of mHealth to improve service delivery and health outcomes: Opportunities and challenges

  • Linda Vesel Concern Worldwide US, Innovations for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
  • David Hipgrave United Nations Children’s Fund, Health Section
  • Justine Dowden Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health
  • Wanjiku Kariuki New York University, Global Institute of Public Health
Keywords: mHealth, Technology, Health, Policy, Innovation


The use of mobile technologies for health related activities (mHealth) is a new but rapidly progressing activity with global penetration. However, few programs have been implemented at scale. The objective of this paper is to review the background and evidence on mHealth, particularly with respect to the benefits and challenges of scale-up. A comprehensive review of literature on mHealth, aspects of eHealth and the related regulatory environment was undertaken in August 2014. mHealth innovations vary broadly in purpose, delivery channel and target population. As a result of its broad applicability and geographic reach, the benefits of successfully, safely and widely implemented mHealth are numerous and promising. However, these benefits can only be realized if the associated risks are minimized and the barriers are purposefully overcome. Government stewardship and leadership is crucial in overcoming these barriers and scaling up mHealth.