Before embarking on an mHealth project, it’s often good to know something about the people you want to be the users. A study from La Paz, Bolivia, and reported in 7th Space Interactive, shows an approach for patients with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) to inform research on mHealth interventions for the Andean region as well as low and middle-income countries.
It identified 559 NCD patients at outpatient clinics affiliated with four hospitals in La Paz. They completed surveys about their use of standard mobiles and smartphones and their sociodemographic characteristics, health status and access to healthcare.
Respondents’ average age was 52, about a third with, at most, a sixth grade education. About 30% spoke an indigenous language in their home. Mobile phone owners were about 86% and smartphone owners were much fewer about 13%. Nearly 60% sent or received a text message at least weekly. About 9% had connectivity problems, such as no mobile signal. Nearly 20% had been without credits for calls.
Mobile phones have high penetration among NCD patients in La Paz. Smartphone use is still relatively uncommon, even by younger and more educated patients. These kinds of findings can have a direct effect on the impact of mHealth projects. It’s a good idea for African countries to find this out before embarking on mHealth programmes.