Background: The use of mobile phone information technology (IT) in the health sector has received much attention especially during the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak. mHealth can be attributed to a major improvement in EVD control, but there lacks an overview of what kinds of tools were available and used based on the functionalities they offer.
Objective: We aimed to conduct a systematic review of mHealth tools in the context of the recent EVD outbreak to identify the most promising approaches and guide further mHealth developments for infectious disease control.
Methods: Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, we searched for all reports on mHealth tools developed in the context of the 2014-2015 EVD outbreak published between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015 on Google Scholar, MEDLINE, CAB Abstracts (Global Health), POPLINE, and Web of Science in any language using the search strategy: ("outbreak" OR "epidemic") AND ("mobile phone" OR "smartphone" OR "smart phone" OR "mobile phone" OR "tablet" OR "mHealth") AND ("Ebola" OR "EVD" OR "VHF" OR "Ebola virus disease" OR "viral hemorrhagic fever") AND ("2014" OR "2015"). The relevant publications were selected by 2 independent reviewers who applied a standardized data extraction form on the tools' functionalities.
Results: We identified 1220 publications through the search strategy, of which 6.31% (77/1220) were original publications reporting on 58 specific mHealth tools in the context of the EVD outbreak. Of these, 62% (34/55) offered functionalities for surveillance, 22% (10/45) for case management, 18% (7/38) for contact tracing, and 6% (3/51) for laboratory data management. Only 3 tools, namely Community Care, Sense Ebola Followup, and Surveillance and Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System supported all four of these functionalities.
Conclusions: Among the 58 identified tools related to EVD management in 2014 and 2015, only 3 appeared to contain all 4 key functionalities relevant for the response to EVD outbreaks and may be most promising for further development.
Keywords: Ebola virus disease; West Africa; case management; contact tracing; eHealth; mHealth; systematic review.
©Daniel Tom-Aba, Patrick Mboya Nguku, Chinedu Chukwujekwu Arinze, Gerard Krause. Originally published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (http://publichealth.jmir.org), 29.10.2018.