An Implementation Strategy to Expand Mobile Health Use in HIV Care Settings: Rapid Evaluation Study Using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Apr 28;9(4):e19163. doi: 10.2196/19163.


Background: Mobile health (mHealth) apps can provide support to people living with a chronic disease by offering resources for communication, self-management, and social support. PositiveLinks (PL) is a clinic-deployed mHealth app designed to improve the health of people with HIV. In a pilot study, PL users experienced considerable improvements in care engagement and viral load suppression. To promote its expansion to other HIV clinics, we developed an implementation strategy consisting of training resources and on-demand program support.

Objective: The objective of our study was to conduct an interim analysis of the barriers and facilitators to PL implementation at early adopting sites to guide optimization of our implementation strategy.

Methods: Semistructured interviews with stakeholders at PL expansion sites were conducted. Analysis of interviews identified facilitators and barriers that were mapped to 22 constructs of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). The purpose of the analysis was to identify the facilitators and barriers to PL implementation in order to adapt the PL implementation strategy. Four Ryan White HIV clinics were included. Interviews were conducted with one health care provider, two clinic managers, and five individuals who coordinated site PL activities.

Results: Ten common facilitators and eight common barriers were identified. Facilitators to PL implementation included PL's fit with patient and clinic needs, PL training resources, and sites' early engagement with their information technology personnel. Most barriers were specific to mHealth, including access to Wi-Fi networks, maintaining patient smartphone access, patient privacy concerns, and lack of clarity on how to obtain approvals for mHealth use.

Conclusions: The CFIR is a useful framework for evaluating mHealth interventions. Although PL training resources were viewed favorably, we identified important barriers to PL implementation in a sample of Ryan White clinics. This enabled our team to expand guidance on identifying information technology stakeholders and procuring and managing mobile resources. Ongoing evaluation results continue to inform improvements to the PL implementation strategy, facilitating PL access for future expansion sites.

Keywords: Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research; HIV care engagement; implementation science; implementation strategy; mHealth; mobile health; smartphone; viral suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections* / therapy
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Telemedicine*