Standards for Mobile Health Vital to Reaching Scale

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New mHealth Alliance report offers guidance on how to achieve standardized mHealth systems in low- and middle-income countries

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In our efforts to improve reach and quality of care, standards and systems integration can help ensure that people move seamlessly through the health system and their data can move with them, said Patricia Mechael, executive director of mHealth Alliance.

The mHealth Alliance today released a new report that provides guidance for policy makers, donors, developers and implementers looking to adopt standards to strengthen health systems and promote the continuum of care, particularly for communities that lack access to health services. The report gives an overview of the current state of standards and interoperability in the field, identifies gaps and opportunities related to standards in low- and middle-income countries, and offers key recommendations that the mobile health community can undertake in order to achieve progress on interoperability.

The value of mobile technology incorporated into the health system lies with its ability to make data and information available in a meaningful way to the right person – the client, the provider and/or the administrator – in the right place, at the right time, regardless of how or when it is collected. Yet health systems in both developed and developing countries continue to struggle to realize the full potential of mHealth, and more generally technology, in part due to limited interoperability.

“Experts and leaders in mHealth recognize that the current lack of standards and technological integration present a key barrier to scaling mHealth,” said Patricia Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance. “In our efforts to improve reach and quality of care, standards and systems integration can help ensure that people move seamlessly through the health system and their data can move with them.”

Dr. H.I. Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), joined with the mHealth Alliance in underscoring the importance of integration. “ICTs are now understood to play a pivotal role in increasing efficiency and quality in delivery of care, and reducing risk and suffering, particularly among the most vulnerable communities in developing countries,” he said. “Interoperability will be a key determinant of e-Health’s efficient and equitable rollout. This is not an area where we can afford to have costly squabbles over proprietary technologies.”

The report proposes that greater guidance by governments and donors, promotion of open standards, and a shift in market dynamics would be particularly effective ways to incentivize interoperability. Existing dynamics do not penalize, and sometimes even reward, the development and use of new and non-interoperable systems, but governments, donors and technology partners can all play an important role in effecting this transition.

Report: The State of Standards and Interoperability for mHealth among Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Chelsea Hedquist
Senior Communications Officer, mHealth Alliance
Office: 202.778.1632
Mobile: 202.290.8440


About the mHealth Alliance: The mHealth Alliance champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world. Working with diverse partners to integrate mHealth into multiple sectors, the Alliance serves as a convener for the mHealth community to overcome common challenges by sharing tools, knowledge, experience and lessons learned. The mHealth Alliance is hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and its core partners include the Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, UN Foundation, GSMA and Norad. For more information, visit

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