Special Delivery: An Analysis of mHealth in Maternal and Newborn Health Programs and Their Outcomes Around the World
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- Tamrat, T. & Kachnowski, S. Matern Child Health J (2012) 16: 1092. doi:10.1007/s10995-011-0836-3
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Mobile health (mHealth) encompasses the use of mobile telecommunication and multimedia into increasingly mobile and wireless health care delivery systems and has the potential to improve tens of thousands of lives each year. The ubiquity and penetration of mobile phones presents the opportunity to leverage mHealth for maternal and newborn care, particularly in under-resourced health ecosystems. Moreover, the slow progress and funding constraints in attaining the Millennium Development Goals for child and maternal health encourage harnessing innovative measures, such as mHealth, to address these public health priorities. This literature review provides a schematic overview of the outcomes, barriers, and strategies of integrating mHealth to improve prenatal and neonatal health outcomes. Six electronic databases were methodically searched using predetermined search terms. Retrieved articles were then categorized according to themes identified in previous studies. A total of 34 articles and reports contributed to the findings with information about the use and limitations of mHealth for prenatal and neonatal healthcare access and delivery. Health systems have implemented mHealth programs to facilitate emergency medical responses, point-of-care support, health promotion and data collection. However, the policy infrastructure for funding, coordinating and guiding the sustainable adoption of prenatal and neonatal mHealth services remains under-developed. The integration of mobile health for prenatal and newborn health services has demonstrated positive outcomes, but the sustainability and scalability of operations requires further feedback from and evaluation of ongoing programs.