Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology


Oregon Health & Science University


There are increasing reports of the benefits of the adoption of mobile health (mHealth) technology such as PDAs and smart phones for health services, data collection, treatment support, and information dissemination in the practice and delivery of health and prevention services and public health. Mobile health information technology (HIT) is rapidly growing and has potential to improve care processes, expand access to care, augment other technologies, and reduce the costs of care. Increasingly, individuals around the world are using mobile technologies/devices to access health services. In addition, health care and public health professionals are integrating mobile technologies into public health practice and clinical care activities. The “reach” of such technological advancements has yet to be fully realized. The definitions of mHealth vary but generally all relate to the delivery of health-related services to patients, consumers, clinicians and caregivers through mobile technology platforms on cellular or wireless networks. Mobile technologies include tablets, cell phones (hardware and software), smart phones, mobile-enabled diagnostic devices, or devices with mobile alert systems. Objectives. The purpose of this paper is to review the evolving US public policy environment related to the use of mobile health information technology with a focus on cell and smart phones for health and wellness Methods With the assistance of a librarian from OHSU, the author searched the Pubmed database and Google Scholar using the following terms: wireless health, mobile health, mHealth, mobile phones, smart phones, cellular phone, and mobile devices. The author also reviewed the reference lists of identified studies and relevant articles. Inclusion criteria were publications that related to the importance and challenges of mHealth technologies and applications, their potential impact on care delivery in the US and related public policy issues. The searches were limited to articles published in English during the period between 2000-2011 that focused on the use of smart and cell phone in the US. The searches were performed in June 2011.1 Leveraging the review of the original sets of papers as well as additional sources that became available since 4 2011, the author describes the evolving “state of the use of mHealth” and provides suggestions for future US public policy considerations. Conclusions Devices such as cell phones and smart phones are likely to continue to proliferate with increasingly sophisticated functionality and practicality. The numbers and variety of applications for mHealth devices are increasing. The rapid and evolving technologies are outpacing current US health policy abut mHealth applications and their use. US public policy efforts that are inclusive and that consider various types of technology would help assure safe, effective and efficient adoption and use of mobile health information technology (HIT) solutions in the US. Despite the ongoing and growing interest in mHealth, in-depth examination and synthesis of what works and does not work has yet to be rigorously assessed and established in the US. The extent to which the use and adoption of mHealth contributes to the effectiveness in informing action and impacting health outcomes in not clear. It appears that the literature on the use of mobile technologies for information support for health professionals and service delivery in the US is growing but at present remains mostly anecdotal and fragmented. Furthermore, there is a need for a more strategic approach in order to implement mHealth interventions on a broader scale and to study how the technology can improve health outcomes. While there is a growing literature base that documents the promise of mHealth the current evidence base does not seem to be sufficient. While mHealth has great potential, current research does not clearly indicate the extent to which there is evidence for actual and wide-scale health impacts. Keywords: wireless health, mobile health, mHealth, mobile phones, smart phones, cellular phone, cell phones, US public policy, mobile apps, and mobile devices




School of Medicine



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.