The promise and peril of mHealth in developing countries
The mHealth field understandably arose from a base of practice, developed a nascent, yet ever-expanding, body of inter-disciplinary scholarship, and currently hopes for recognition by, and establishment on, national and trans-national policy bodies and agendas respectively. However, to justify public investment, policymakers require a body of theoretically sound, methodologically rigorous, and generalizable, evidence on how mobile technologies can effectively improve basic healthcare service delivery for hard-to-reach, resource-poor populations in developing countries. This essay draws upon prior work, ranging from a review article, an mHealth intervention for Indonesian healthcare workers within the medical infrastructure, to a text-messaging project in Uganda focused on beneficiaries. The argument is organized around theoretical, methodological, and sustainability issues, and proposes suggestions for how the discipline of mobile communication studies can add value to the field of mHealth research in developing countries.