Study: mHealth pilot programs must show demonstrated value

Pilot programs can be invaluable to mobile healthcare groups provided that they have clear endpoints, according to a recent study by Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based consulting firm Cutting Edge Information.

Not surprisingly, once an idea has been piloted and has demonstrated its value, stakeholders are more likely to enthusiastically support a new idea, says Michelle Vitko, senior analyst at Cutting Edge Information and author of the study.

"Though pilot programs can be essential to building effective mHealth departments, companies must be careful," Vitko warns in an announcement. "They must ensure that pilots are used as presentations of value and not merely as tools to mollify calls for greater technology."

To prevent an mHealth pilot program from becoming an "endless test loop," mHealth groups need to gain executive buy-in for future investments, states the article. In addition, the article advises that basing project development decisions on real-life observations increases the likelihood for success and future project investments.

In related news, an article in PLoS Medicine found that despite hundreds of mHealth pilot studies there has been "insufficient programmatic evidence to inform implementation and scale-up of mHealth." After more than 500 pilot studies tracked by the World Bank, the article concludes that, "we know almost nothing about the likely uptake, best strategies for engagement, efficacy, or effectiveness of these initiatives."

As a result, the authors say mHealth interventions "lack a foundation of basic evidence, let alone a foundation that would permit evidence-based scale up."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- read the study