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Validation of an Interoperability Framework for Linking mHealth Apps to Electronic Record Systems in Botswana: Expert Survey Study

HumanInsight Validation of an Interoperability Framework for Linking mHealth Apps to Electronic Record Systems in Botswana: Expert Survey Study

JMIR Form Res. 2023 May 2;7:e41225. doi: 10.2196/41225.


BACKGROUND: Electronic record (eRecord) systems and mobile health (mHealth) apps have documented potential to improve health service delivery, resulting in increased global uptake. However, their interoperability remains a global challenge hindering diagnosis, monitoring of health conditions, and data access irrespective of geographic location. Given the widespread use of mobile devices by patients and health care providers, linking mHealth apps and eRecord systems could result in a comprehensive and seamless data exchange within a health care community. The Botswana National eHealth Strategy recognizes interoperability as an issue and mHealth as a potential solution for some health care needs but is silent on how to make mHealth apps interoperable with existing eRecord systems. A literature review and analysis of existing mHealth interoperability frameworks found none suitable for Botswana. As such, it was critical to conceptualize, design, and develop an mHealth-eRecord Interoperability Framework (mHeRIF) to enhance the interoperability pillar of the Botswana National eHealth Strategy and leverage the full benefits of linking mHealth apps with other health information systems.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to validate the developed mHeRIF and determine whether it requires further refinement before consideration towards enhancing the National eHealth Strategy.

METHODS: Published framework validation approaches guided the development of a survey administered to 12 purposively selected local and international eHealth experts. In total, 25% (3/12) of the experts were drawn from Botswana, 25% (3/12) were drawn from low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 25% (3/12) were drawn from low- and middle-income countries outside Africa, and 25% (3/12) were drawn from high-income countries. Quantitative responses were collated in a Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Corp) spreadsheet for descriptive analysis, and the NVivo software (version 11; QSR International) was used to aid the thematic analysis of the qualitative open-ended questions.

RESULTS: The analysis of responses showed overall support for the content and format of the proposed mHeRIF. However, some experts' suggestions led to 4 modest revisions of the mHeRIF.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the experts' reviews showed that the mHeRIF could contribute to the National eHealth Strategy by guiding the linking of mHealth apps to existing eRecord systems in Botswana. Similarly, the experts validated an architectural model derived from the mHeRIF in support of the first mobile telemedicine initiative considered for national rollout in Botswana. The mHeRIF helps identify key components to consider before and after linking mHealth apps to eRecord systems and is being considered for use as the foundation of such interoperability in Botswana.

PMID:37129939 | DOI:10.2196/41225

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