mHealth improves HIV patient engagement, access to care

In a study, published in Mobile Media & Communication, researchers found that mobile health interventions (mHealth) improve access to care and patient engagement in patients with HIV.

Led by Archana Krishnan, an assistant professor of communications at University at Albany-SUNY, the study evaluates how mHealth’s use of dosing reminders, medication intake and improved communication between providers and patients increases self-care of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.

"The near-ubiquitous access to mobile technology has encouraged entrepreneurs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), researchers and governments to develop secure methods for data collection that include secure servers, data encryption and HIPAA-compliant security protocols," said Krishnan in a statement. "The global health community has now created and implemented a myriad of mHealth solutions in response to problems that previously seemed intractable. But, there is still a good deal of evaluation that needs to be completed."

The study, named Project SMART, implemented cellular-enabled pill boxes and smartphone tracking of medication intake with automated clinician feed back to measure adherence and outcomes in populations with HIV. Along with test reminders, the study showed improvements in patients attending HIV medical appointments and communication regarding questions on care.

In response to improving care in low access communities, where HIV is more prevalent, the study outlines a three-pronged approach:

  • Measuring accessibility of communication technological tools and the feasibility and acceptability of mHealth through additional studies.
  • Conduct studies on the implementation of mHealth interventions.
  • Integrate mHealth tools into large scale trials.