Determining Needs to Support mHealth Interventions

Determining Needs to Support mHealth Interventions

Jill Erin Stefaniak (University of Georgia, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9490-2.ch004
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Needs assessment and analyses allow for organizations and individuals to identify any gaps or discrepancies between a current state of performance and a desired state. In regards to m-health technology, needs assessment can be used to help healthcare providers identify specific gaps or areas that could benefit from m-health technologies such as reducing the cancellation of appointments, improving health records, consolidating paperwork, and improving patient education efforts. The purpose of this chapter is to explore how needs assessment strategies can be leveraged to support healthcare providers' abilities to identify, select, and in implement m-health technologies into their patient plans. This chapter will review the types of needs healthcare providers must consider when implementing m-health technologies, as well as strategies that can support their decisions.
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In recent years, technological advances in healthcare, informatics, and mobile education have led the medical field to explore ways in which they can reach patients outside of the typical healthcare system. In an attempt to improve upon the efficiencies of healthcare communication and record keeping, mobile-health (m-health) has emerged as a viable strategy (Diao & Kvedar, 2021; Martínez-Pérez et al., 2013; Qudah & Luetsch, 2019).

M-health is defined by the World Health Organization as “medical public health practices supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices (2011, p. 6). To date, there is a growing body of definitions to describe e-health and m-health initiatives (Silva et al, 2015; Steinhubl et al., 2013). Despite advances with the technological capabilities, mobile-health (m-health) can be described as health interventions that use the Internet for administrative, clinical, and educational practices (Mitchell, 1999). Such interventions provide patients with opportunities to connect to their healthcare providers remotely.

M-health technology provides several benefits to patients and healthcare providers. It provides patients with direct access to their providers and electronic health records, allows for patients living in remote and desolate areas to connect with healthcare professionals without having to travel to a facility, improves patient safety by sharing healthcare records among providers, pharmacies, and patients, and provides a platform for improving communication and the planning of routine visits (Ganasegeran et al., 2017; Nisha et al., 2019).

While m-health technologies have the potential to increase efficiencies and improve communication and patient safety, there are challenges associated with increasing the rate of adoption of m-health technologies. It is important that healthcare professionals take into consideration the role that m-health technologies will have in their practice. It is important that m-health technologies do not substitute interactions with patients that need to occur in medical facilities. Another challenge is ensuring patient compliance and ability to use m-health technologies (Leung & Chen, 2019). If there is an expectation that patients are to use m-health technologies to communicate with their providers, challenges exist with ensuring patients are using the technological applications correctly, accessing data as needed, and monitoring their health vitals per the instructions of their healthcare providers (Fatehi et al., 2017; Hashemi et al., 2018; Hoque & Sorwar, 2017; Hwabamungu & Willilams, 2010; Liew et al., 2019; Triantafyllidis et al., 2019). There is a growing concern with supporting elderly patients in the adoption of m-health technologies (Guo et al., 2013; Hoque & Sorwar, 2017; Quaosar et a., 2018; Safdari et a., 2018).

Additional challenges exist with determining what technological factors may impede the implementation of m-health technologies. While m-health has the potential to support patients living in developing countries and rural locations, these interventions will only be successful if there is an adequate infrastructure in place to support patients’ ability to access information (Aamir et al., 2018; Alaiad et al., 2019; Alam et al., 2020; Crib et al., 2015; Dwivedi et a., 2016; Gleason, 2015).

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in mobile education where individuals have used their phones and other devices to use the Internet to connect to educational opportunities. As mobile education has continued to evolve, m-health has also expanded to include additional resources to support patient education. Examples include the use of educational videos to support patients with chronic health issues. Videos provide opportunities for healthcare professionals to explain health conditions and associated medical procedures as well as demonstrate proper exercise, monitoring, and medical care (Lee et al., 2018; Salvi et al., 2018; Yang & Korvarik, 2021).

Through the development of various mobile applications that can be downloaded directly to a phone or mobile device, patients are now able to track their vitals and other important health information. Examples of things that patients can track in real-time include glucose levels, oxygen levels, pulse rates, nutrition, and medicine. Resources for how to improve adherence to medical health plans are also available through mobile instruction in addition to providing patients with medical alerts and reminders (Free et al., 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Patient Affordances: A patient’s perceivable actions that are possible in terms of how a patient will use resources and tools provided through a m-health platform.

Needs Analysis: A process of determining causal factors that are contributing to needs and gaps in performance identified during a needs assessment.

Environmental Affordances: Factors that pose significant implications for the patient and provider affordances and needs.

Intervention: A resource or service that is provided to address a need.

m-Health: Educational resources and health services that are supported by mobile devices.

Technology Affordances: The capabilities of the technologies being used to provide services via a m-health platform.

Needs Assessment: A process of determining discrepancies or gaps in performance that may exist between a current state of affairs and a desired state of affairs.

Provider Affordances: The abilities and potential for action of those individuals responsible for providing services.

Need: A gap between a current state of affairs and a desired state of affairs.

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