Use of mHealth systems and tools for non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2014 Nov;7(8):677-91. doi: 10.1007/s12265-014-9581-5. Epub 2014 Sep 11.


With the rapid adoption of mobile devices, mobile health (mHealth) offers the potential to transform health care delivery, especially in the world's poorest regions. We systematically reviewed the literature to determine the impact of mHealth interventions on health care quality for non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries and to identify knowledge gaps in this rapidly evolving field. Overall, we found few high-quality studies. Most studies narrowly focused on text messaging systems for patient behavior change, and few studies examined the health systems strengthening aspects of mHealth. There were limited literature reporting clinical effectiveness, costs, and patient acceptability, and none reporting equity and safety issues. Despite the bold promise of mHealth to improve health care, much remains unknown about whether and how this will be fulfilled. Encouragingly, we identified some registered clinical trial protocols of large-scale, multidimensional mHealth interventions, suggesting that the current limited evidence base will expand in coming years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / economics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Cell Phone
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Computers, Handheld
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / economics
  • Developing Countries* / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Poverty*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Telemedicine* / economics
  • Telemedicine* / instrumentation
  • Text Messaging