Establishing a Global End to End Mobile Content Distribution Process for Health Workers

mPowering Frontline Health Workers, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Program and Digital Campus have just published a report (funded by Qualcomm Wireless Reach) on an open collaborative model for how health worker training content can be delivered in a way that will help to reduce duplication of efforts and decrease the time and cost of deploying mobile learning for frontline health workers. The process described helps to tie up the work we are doing with OppiaMobile and the ORB platform.

Download the full report (pdf, 3.6Mb)

Executive Summary:

This report represents an initial “blueprint” to create a scalable, locally sustainable, ‘end-to-end’ content distribution process that uses mobile technology to provide frontline health workers (FLHWs) access to relevant health content.

The core of the proposed process aims to: (1) increase content contributions to a centralized content management platform; (2) reduce duplication through collaborative content production and adaptation; (3) shorten the time and reduce the cost required to implement solutions for specific contexts and geographies by making the design process more standardized and systematic; and (4) establish an open collaborative model for the ongoing refinement of the process that can evolve independent of specific technologies. Establishing this process is a first step towards creating a common delivery system that allows organizations to focus on content creation and adaptation in order to accelerate the development of knowledge and skills for FLHWs and the communities they serve.

Despite significant milestones in the use of mobile devices by FLHWs, the inability of mobile health (mHealth) programs to go to scale without an ongoing infusion of external resources continues to challenge the global health development sector. One factor is the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of mHealth, which for government and donors diminishes the value of the investment in mHealth:

The phenomenal growth in the number of new [over 1300 mHealth] services has not, unfortunately, seen a parallel growth in the evidence base of these services, particularly
economic (cost) proof points. 90% of services are reliant on donor funding and/or a consumer payment model, both of which we would argue are unsustainable, given the short term nature of funding and the inability of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid to contribute significantly to out of pocket health expenses.

With increasing affordability of smartphones and steady improvements in wireless telecommunications infrastructure, the failure to scale mHealth solutions will become increasingly hard to explain. If the existing technology already lends itself to scale what are the barriers to achieving that goal, and to do so in a way that is sustained beyond initial donor investment?

In proposing an end-to-end process for content distribution, this report directly addresses the challenges to sustainable scale of mHealth programs.

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