The potential and impact of mobile health, research and training in Peru




Castillo, Greta

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In the past decade, mobile communication services such as cell phones and other types of hand-held devices have become relatively cheap, affordable and accessible, especially in developing countries, including Peru. The applications of mobile devices in health, or mHealth, are surfacing and have the potential to improve the delivery and quality of health by eliminating the distance barriers; permitting the availability and retrieval of data in a timely manner; educating the public on prevention; supporting the management of diseases, and promoting patient empowerment to the population, including those that are socially stigmatized. Equally important, in conjunction with technology, training is another important factor to build a critical mass of professionals to develop and evaluate mHealth strategies. In order to take advantage of the technology at hand, health professionals must be able to know how to use these tools that are available to them. The purpose of the study is to explore the research and training, and mHealth strategies being developed in Peru. The study has the following aims: • To examine the process, progress and lessons learned of a) the mobile health initiatives of Peru through the lens of the Cell-POS project, and b) the training initiatives on mHealth in Peru through the lens of the QUIPU project; • To discover how people with HIV can achieve patient empowerment and involvement in managing their own health through the use of cell phones. For the mobile health project (Cell-POS) both quantitative and qualitative data collection was gathered, which resulted in an in-depth research analysis evaluating the efforts and initiatives of mHealth solutions in Peru, with a focus on how the use of mobile technology can help people with HIV feel empowered. In addition, it was explored how mobile health is being positioned in the area of training through the lens of the QUIPU project. A two-day expert meeting which took place on March 26 and March 27, 2010 in Lima, Peru resulted in insightful discussions of the problems and necessities regarding training in Biomedical and Health Informatics; specific issues about the curricula and the level of multidisciplinary were also discussed. Through the QUIPU project it was found that the challenges and needs are very similar across Latin America; however, through collaboration and partnerships, global health initiatives are on a rise. The Cell-POS project examined the feasibility, acceptability, perceived ease of use, and usefulness towards mHealth in relation with patient empowerment. The primary finding was that participants were satisfied and accepted the Cell-POS platform quickly and without difficulty. After six months of use, the results demonstrated that the participants perceived that the messages were clear, effective, and understandable and it was easy to incorporate the Cell-POS system to their daily activities. Most participants perceived that Cell-POS enhanced their knowledge related to HIV treatment and improved their ability to take their medications correctly and on time. Through proper planning, research initiatives and collaborative work, a successful project can be achieved. Peru has great potential, which is already starting to show through the research and work that is currently taken place. This study examines selected mHealth initiatives in the context of research and training of mHealth in Peru.



mHealth, mobile health, research and training, health informatics, Peru, Latin America, patient empowerment