Study presents learnings and best practice for scaling digital health interventions in resource-limited settings

A study published in frontiers journal has put forward a case study proposing an “omni-channel, outcomes-focused approach to scale digital health interventions in resource-limited populations”. It offers “real-world evidence of successful scaling strategies for an mHealth intervention in a resource limited setting”, from a family health intervention in India.

The study focuses on the Saathealth family preventative health intervention, which it describes as “a scaled digital offering that aims to improve knowledge levels on various health topics, nudge positive behaviour changes, and drive improved health outcomes”. Authors share their learnings from the digital offering, which has “reached >10 million users across India”, aiming to bridge “health information gaps prevalent in low-income populations”.

The intervention was initially launched as a children’s health app in 2018 “to meet the childhood development information needs of urban, low-income parents in India”, and expanded to a “mobile health (mHealth) intervention that could address the most common gaps in health awareness and practices in resource-limited settings”.

Findings from the case study identified a number of strategies as “instrumental” in achieving scale and sustainability, including ensuring cultural relevance; using an omni-channel approach to deliver “infotaining, gamified content”; delivering “iterative product features”; using real-time analytics to test and tailor interventions; and building partnerships to offer health services in the interventions.

Specifically, authors recognised that a large proportion of their audience were Hindi-speaking, ensuring that their intervention was designed to meet “the health information needs of a large proportion of Hindi-speaking, underserved populations”. They also kept up with “evolving trends” in content and platforms such as TikTok and Instagram reels, to meet users’ preferences for accessing information. Information was presented in the form of gamified content, such as quizzes, leader boards and games, displaying users’ rankings based on engagement levels, content consumption and knowledge levels. Finally, a live dashboard was used to monitor user behaviour and to “track the evolving needs of health consumers”.

The study concludes that “the family health intervention will also be able to demonstrate how a sustainable business model can create scalable impact with underserved health consumers”.

In other research from journals, a recent study from npj Digital Medicine proposed a new framework for assessing evidence from digital health interventions.

Another study from Sage Digital Health journal aimed to deliver a similar digital health intervention to improve health awareness for infection prevention, hygiene, and sanitation to assess its impact, and identify the risk of multimorbidity in women of reproductive years from low socio-economic background.

To read the journal article on the scaling of digital health interventions in full, please click here.

Hazra-Ganju A, Dlima SD, Menezes SR, Ganju A and Mer A (2023) An omni-channel, outcomes-focused approach to scale digital health interventions in resource-limited populations: a case study. Front. Digit. Health 5:1007687. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2023.1007687