mHealth tools need framework, ethical oversight to help with TB treatment

Laptop computer on desk

Mobile healthcare tools, from video observation to direct and indirect device monitoring via sensors, hold promise for tuberculosis treatment--however, ethical concerns remain.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, in a report published at Global Health: Science and Practice, created a framework for TB treatment via mobile health. The framework outlines strengths and weakness of intervention categories, provides recommendations for future treatment and highlights improvements needed for direct observation of therapy (DOT). DOT is the global care standard in TB medication adherence monitoring.

In March, FierceHealthcare reported that TB cases in the U.S. rose for the first time in 23 years.

Despite that, mHealth's potential for TB management "remains largely explored and there s a lack of people-centered mHealth approaches responses to the complexity of real life," according to the researchers.

They write that mHealth can help patients adhere to treatement because such tools create ways of providing financial and non-financial incentives to encourage adherence. The researchers also point out that health tools can be used in myriad ways for TB management, such as through video observation therapy, indirect monitoring via text and direct messaging, and direct monitoring via an ingestible sensor. 

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