Mobile Consulting (Remote Consulting) is when patients consult with healthcare workers about a health issue using some form of digital communication, e.g. mobile phone, tablet. mConsulting has potential to improve access to quality healthcare, particularly for communities with minimal access to services in low- and middle-income counties. There are well-known corporate providers in many countries but with the availability of mobile money transfer, individuals and small organisations may also be providing mConsulting. In our study, we are exploring how mConsulting is used and provided and its perceived impact in urban slums and remote rural areas in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania.
We are working in remote rural areas in Pakistan and Tanzania and five urban slums in Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria. Between April 2019 and March 2020, we analysed national policies and identified existing mConsulting services in each country.We held interviews and ran workshops, reaching over 230 community residents, 50 local health workers and 30 local and national decision-makers about their use, experiences and perceptions of mConsulting.
Data were qualitatively analysed for key themes within and across sites. We also analysed secondary data from a household survey undertaken in the five urban study sites by the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums.
Co-produced mobile consulting for remote, marginalised communities in Africa (UKRI GCRF Digital Innovation for Development in Africa)
Digital communication in the NHS, UK Improving health outcomes for young people with long-term conditions: The role of digital communication in current and future patient-clinical communication for NHS providers of specialist clinical services (the LYNC Study)
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Project Advisory Groups
Research in each study site has been guided by a Project Advisory Group of local experts, including community leaders, local health workers and managers, mHealth service providers, mobile companies, technical and academic experts, local NGOs and researchers.
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The mConsulting Project is supported by a foundation grant from the Health Systems Research Initiative with funding from the UK Department for International Development, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (grant no. MR/S012729/1).
Team members from Warwick's Medical School and Institute of Digital Healthcare, UK King's College London, UK and St Francis College of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania have developed training for health workers to use their own phones to deliver healthcare to patients, thus reducing the need for face-to-face contact. The training is free to use subject to licence.
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