mHealth Basics: Introduction to Mobile Technology for Health

Source - Satish Srivastava/Catholic Relief Services. An ASHA uses a CommCare application on mobile phone to counsel her pregnant client.

mHealth is the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives.

The widespread use of mobile phones is one reason why this practice is rapidly progressing. This course provides an introduction to this emerging field and an overview of best practices for mHealth solution development.

The focus of the course is on mHealth applications commonly used in developing country contexts.


When you have finished this course, you will be able to:

  • Define mHealth and its relationship to eHealth and ICT
  • Explain the importance of mHealth
  • Explain potential benefits and limitations of mHealth
  • Describe the mobile devices and features commonly used in mHealth in low-resource settings
  • Describe the six types of mHealth applications
  • Describe preliminary conclusions from the evidence on mHealth
  • Describe recommended best practices for each phase of mHealth solution development
  • Identify examples of best practices in mHealth solution development scenarios
  • Identify and obtain resources for additional information about mHealth


The authors are very grateful to the reviewers who provided their insights and suggestions:

James Shelton, Peggy D’Adamo, Adam Slote, USAID; James BonTempo, Angela Nash-Mercado, JHU/CCP, K4Health Project; Steve Ollis, DTree International.

We also thank the many people who generously provided information, photos and other graphics for case studies and other examples used this course, including:

  • Catholic Relief Services: Carrie Miller, Marianna Hensley, Deepti Pant, Karen Moul
  • D-Tree: Marc Mitchell
  • Dimagi: Gillian Javetski, Jeremy Wacksman, Mohini Bhavsar
  • FHI 360: Heather Vahdat, Stacey Succop and Steve Sortijas
  • Georgetown University Institute for Reproductive Health: Meredith Puleio, Alexis Ettinger
  • Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative: Alain Labrique
  • JSI: Mike Frost
  • Marie Stopes International: Judy Gold, Meira Naggaz, Lalaina Razafinirinasoa
  • PSI: Maria Preston
  • TechChange: Nicholas Martin
  • World Bank: Merrick Schaeffer
  • World Health Organization: Garret Mehl

Special thanks to Design Lab 360 graphic artist Kay Garcia, who created most of the illustrations in this course.

Finally, many thanks to the mHealth experts we interviewed whose insights informed the solution development section of the course as well as the online mHealth implementation guide: How to Integrate Mobile Technology into Health Programming.