Integration of mHealth Information and Communication Technologies Into the Clinical Settings of Hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa: Qualitative Study

Background:
There is a rapid uptake of mobile-enabled technologies in lower- and upper-middle–income countries because of its portability, ability to reduce mobility, and facilitation of communication. However, there is limited empirical evidence on the usefulness of mobile health (mHealth) information and communication technologies (ICTs) to address constraints associated with the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in hospital settings.

Objective:
This study aims to explore opportunities for integrating mHealth ICTs into the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in clinical settings of hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the research question is, “How can mHealth ICTs be integrated into the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in hospital settings?”

Methods:
A qualitative approach was adopted to understand the work activities and points at which mHealth ICTs could be integrated to support health care professionals. The techniques of inquiry were semistructured interviews and co-design activities. These techniques were used to ensure the participation of frontline end users and determine how mHealth ICTs could be integrated into the point of care in hospital settings. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to select tertiary hospitals and participants for this study from South Africa and Nigeria. A total of 19 participants, including physicians, nurses, and hospital managers, were engaged in the study. Ethical clearance was granted by the University research committee and the respective hospitals. The data collected were sorted and interpreted using thematic analysis and Activity Analysis and Development model.

Results:
The findings show that mHealth ICTs are suitable at points where health care professionals consult with patients in the hospital clinics, remote communication is needed, and management of referrals and report writing are required. It was inferred that mHealth ICTs could be negatively disruptive, and some participants perceived the use of mobile devices while engaging with patients as unprofessional. These findings were informed by the outcomes of the interplay between human attributes and technology capabilities during the transformation of the motives of work activity into the intended goal, which is enhanced service delivery.

Conclusions:
The opportunities to integrate mHealth ICTs into clinical settings depend on the inefficiencies of interaction moments experienced by health care professionals at points of care during patient consultation, remote communication, referrals, and report writing. Thus, the timeliness of mHealth ICTs to address constraints experienced by health care professionals during work activities should take into consideration the type of work activity and the contextual factors that may result in contradictions in relation to technology features. This study contributes toward the design of mHealth ICTs by industry vendors and its usability evaluation for the work activity outcomes of health care professionals.

Identification and Evaluation of Methodologies to Assess the Quality of Mobile Health Apps in High-, Low-, and Middle-Income Countries: Rapid Review

Background:
In recent years, there has been rapid growth in the availability and use of mobile health (mHealth) apps around the world. A consensus regarding an accepted standard to assess the quality of such apps has yet to be reached. A factor that exacerbates the challenge of mHealth app quality assessment is variations in the interpretation of quality and its subdimensions. Consequently, it has become increasingly difficult for health care professionals worldwide to distinguish apps of high quality from those of lower quality. This exposes both patients and health care professionals to unnecessary risks. Despite progress, limited understanding of the contributions of researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) exists on this topic. Furthermore, the applicability of quality assessment methodologies in LMIC settings remains relatively unexplored.

Objective:
This rapid review aims to identify current methodologies in the literature to assess the quality of mHealth apps, understand what aspects of quality these methodologies address, determine what input has been made by authors from LMICs, and examine the applicability of such methodologies in LMICs.

Methods:
This review was registered with PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews). A search of PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Scopus was performed for papers related to mHealth app quality assessment methodologies, which were published in English between 2005 and 2020. By taking a rapid review approach, a thematic and descriptive analysis of the papers was performed.

Results:
Electronic database searches identified 841 papers. After the screening process, 52 papers remained for inclusion. Of the 52 papers, 5 (10%) proposed novel methodologies that could be used to evaluate mHealth apps of diverse medical areas of interest, 8 (15%) proposed methodologies that could be used to assess apps concerned with a specific medical focus, and 39 (75%) used methodologies developed by other published authors to evaluate the quality of various groups of mHealth apps. The authors in 6% (3/52) of papers were solely affiliated to institutes in LMICs. A further 15% (8/52) of papers had at least one coauthor affiliated to an institute in an LMIC.

Conclusions:
Quality assessment of mHealth apps is complex in nature and at times subjective. Despite growing research on this topic, to date, an all-encompassing appropriate means for evaluating the quality of mHealth apps does not exist. There has been engagement with authors affiliated to institutes across LMICs; however, limited consideration of current generic methodologies for application in LMIC settings has been identified.

Mobile Ecological Momentary Assessment and Intervention and Health Behavior Change Among Adults in Rakai, Uganda: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Background:
An extraordinary increase in mobile phone ownership has revolutionized the opportunities to use mobile health approaches in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Ecological momentary assessment and intervention (EMAI) uses mobile technology to gather data and deliver timely, personalized behavior change interventions in an individual’s natural setting. To our knowledge, there have been no previous trials of EMAI in sub-Saharan Africa.

Objective:
To advance the evidence base for mobile health (mHealth) interventions in LMICs, we conduct a pilot randomized trial to assess the feasibility of EMAI and establish estimates of the potential effect of EMAI on a range of health-related behaviors in Rakai, Uganda.

Methods:
This prospective, parallel-group, randomized pilot trial compared health behaviors between adult participants submitting ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data and receiving behaviorally responsive interventional health messaging (EMAI) with those submitting EMA data alone. Using a fully automated mobile phone app, participants submitted daily reports on 5 different health behaviors (fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, and condomless sex with a non–long-term partner) during a 30-day period before randomization (P1). Participants were then block randomized to the control arm, continuing EMA reporting through exit, or the intervention arm, EMA reporting and behavioral health messaging receipt. Participants exited after 90 days of follow-up, divided into study periods 2 (P2: randomization + 29 days) and 3 (P3: 30 days postrandomization to exit). We used descriptive statistics to assess the feasibility of EMAI through the completeness of data and differences in reported behaviors between periods and study arms.

Results:
The study included 48 participants (24 per arm; 23/48, 48% women; median age 31 years). EMA data collection was feasible, with 85.5% (3777/4418) of the combined days reporting behavioral data. There was a decrease in the mean proportion of days when alcohol was consumed in both arms over time (control: P1, 9.6% of days to P2, 4.3% of days; intervention: P1, 7.2% of days to P3, 2.4% of days). Decreases in sex with a non–long-term partner without a condom were also reported in both arms (P1 to P3 control: 1.9% of days to 1% of days; intervention: 6.6% of days to 1.3% of days). An increase in vegetable consumption was found in the intervention (vegetable: 65.6% of days to 76.6% of days) but not in the control arm. Between arms, there was a significant difference in the change in reported vegetable consumption between P1 and P3 (control: 8% decrease in the mean proportion of days vegetables consumed; intervention: 11.1% increase; P=.01).

Conclusions:
Preliminary estimates suggest that EMAI may be a promising strategy for promoting behavior change across a range of behaviors. Larger trials examining the effectiveness of EMAI in LMICs are warranted.

Trial Registration:
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04375423; https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04375423

Smartphone Medical App Use and Associated Factors Among Physicians at Referral Hospitals in Amhara Region, North Ethiopia, in 2019: Cross-sectional Study

Background:
Information in health care is rapidly expanding and is updated very regularly, especially with the increasing use of technology in the sector. Due to this, health care providers require timely access to the latest scientific evidence anywhere. Smartphone medical apps are tools to access the latest reputable scientific evidence in the discipline. In addition, smartphone medical apps could lead to improved decision making, reduced numbers of medical errors, and improved communication between hospital medical staff.

Objective:
The aim of this study was to assess smartphone medical app use and associated factors among physicians working at referral hospitals of the Amhara region, Ethiopia.

Methods:
An institution-based cross-sectional study design was conducted among physicians working at 5 referral hospitals in the Amhara region, Ethiopia, from February 5 to May 27, 2019. A simple random sampling method was used to select 423 physicians. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data and analyzed using SPSS, version 21 (IBM Corp). Binary and multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to assess factors associated with smartphone medical app use among physicians. A value of P<.05, corresponding to a 95% CI, was considered statistically significant. The validity of the questionnaire was determined based on the view of experts and the reliability of it obtained by calculating the value of Cronbach alpha (α=.78)

Results:
In this study, most of the 417 respondents (375, 89.9%) had medical apps installed on their smartphones. Of those 375 respondents, 264 (70.4%) had used medical apps during clinical practice. The medical apps most commonly used by the respondents were UpToDate, Medscape, MedCalc, and Doximity. According to multivariable logistic regression analysis, attitude (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.64, 95% CI 1.05-2.55), internet access (AOR 2.82, 95% CI 1.75-4.54), computer training (AOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.09-2.67), perceived usefulness of the app (AOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.05-2.54), information technology support staff (AOR 2.363, 95% CI 1.5-3.08), and technical skill (AOR 2.52, 95% CI 1.50-4.25) were significantly associated with smartphone medical app use.

Conclusions:
Most respondents have a smartphone medical app and have used it in clinical practice. Attitude, internet access, computer training, perceived usefulness of the app, information technology support staff, and technical skill are the most notable factors that are associated with smartphone medical app use by physicians.

Usability of Mobile Health Apps for Postoperative Care: Systematic Review

Background: Mobile health (mHealth) apps are increasingly used postoperatively to monitor, educate, and rehabilitate. The usability of mHealth apps is critical to their implementation.

Objective: This systematic review evaluates the (1) methodology of usability analyses, (2) domains of usability being assessed, and (3) results of usability analyses.

Methods: The A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews checklist was consulted. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses reporting guideline was adhered to. Screening was undertaken by 2 independent reviewers. All included studies were assessed for risk of bias. Domains of usability were compared with the gold-standard mHealth App Usability Questionnaire (MAUQ).

Results: A total of 33 of 720 identified studies were included for data extraction. Of the 5 included randomized controlled trials (RCTs), usability was never the primary end point. Methodology of usability analyses included interview (10/33), self-created questionnaire (18/33), and validated questionnaire (9/33). Of the 3 domains of usability proposed in the MAUQ, satisfaction was assessed in 28 of the 33 studies, system information arrangement was assessed in 11 of the 33 studies, and usefulness was assessed in 18 of the 33 studies. Usability of mHealth apps was above industry average, with median System Usability Scale scores ranging from 76 to 95 out of 100.

Conclusions: Current analyses of mHealth app usability are substandard. RCTs are rare, and validated questionnaires are infrequently consulted. Of the 3 domains of usability, only satisfaction is regularly assessed. There is significant bias throughout the literature, particularly with regards to conflicts of interest. Future studies should adhere to the MAUQ to assess usability and improve the utility of mHealth apps.