mHealth Meet mLearning: The Opportunities

“Mobile health” or “mhealth” is the use of mobile devices (and their associated networks) to deliver health services and information. “Mobile learning” (“mlearning”)  is instruction and performance support mediated through the use of hand-held mobile devices. In other words, while mobile phones, smart phones, and tablets, such as the iPad, are tools for mlearning, laptops are not.

According to an Ambient Insight Comprehensive Research Report (2010), the US market for health-related mlearning was 104.44 million in 2009 and revenues will reach 306.67 by 2014.

In this post and a few subsequent posts, I’ll be discussing the intersection between mhealth and mlearning.

The audiences for mobile health learning

There are two main audiences for health-related mlearning: health care professionals (HCPs) and non-health care professionals (aka patients, health consumers, health activists).

Learning opportunities for HCPs exist in:

  • Medical education
  • Continuing medical education (CME)
  • Performance support and job aids (relating to accessing and using health information generally and patient information/patient medical records, more specifically)
  • Education in the use of telemedicine
  • Education in mobile technology more generally

Learning opportunities for those who are not health care professionals exist in:

  • Education relating to health behaviors (e.g., preventative behaviors)
  • Education relating to health care strategies (e.g., disease awareness and post-diagnosis treatment support)
  • Education relating to the creation and use of personal health records
  • Education relating to the health insurance system
  • Education relating to health-related laws (e.g., HIPAA, GINA)
  • Performance support tools for healthy living (e.g., tools for weight management, proper nutrition, etc)
  • Education in the use of “smart devices” (e.g., glucose monitoring devices) and their mobile device interfaces
  • Education in mobile technology more generally

Point-of-care learning: Not just for physicians

The mobile nature of mlearning for HCPs  is exciting because it means that medical education/CME/performance support can occur at point-of-care. However, point-of-care learning is also desirable for patients. For example, patients can use their mobile devices at the doctor’s office or in a hospital/emergency room to:

  • Access a list of questions they’ve prepared for their doctor
  • Look up medical words
  • Look up medication information
  • Access a patient support community
  • Access their personal health record

Location-based applications can also be used to help individuals find health care services in their neighborhoods (such as emergency medical care services, clinics, and pharmacies).

Some design caveats

As with any exciting new technology-driven discipline, there’s a certain amount of hype surrounding mhealth. Some considerations moving forward:

  • Both professional and non-professional audiences are heterogeneous when it comes to comfort with technology and access to mobile devices.
  • Not all phones are smart
  • Smart phones vary in capabilities (and size and price)
  • Tablets have their own design paradigms and create different types of learning opportunities

This Slideshare presentation raises some interesting points about access and utilization of currently available mobile technologies.

Of course, market segmentation will be different when considering physician versus non-physician audiences and the data is changing rapidly, but it’s worth continually reassessing who exactly has access to different types of mobile devices.

In the next post, I’ll explore some instructional design considerations when creating health-related mobile learning applications.

In the meantime, you can access some resources on mhealth in this Diigo Group I created. (If you are not familiar with Diigo, this post will help you get started.)

Diigo resources on mlearning not specifically related to the health field can be found here.

If you’re a Twitter user, use the #mhealth and #mlearning hashtags to find the latest information and views about these fields.

Ambient Insight  Comprehensive Research Report. (Sept. 2010). The US Healthcare Market for Mobile Learning Products and Services: 2009-2014 Forecast and Analysis. Retrieved from

To find me on Twitter


7 responses to “mHealth Meet mLearning: The Opportunities

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention mHealth Meet mLearning: The Opportunities | Instructional Design Fusions --

  2. Should also add that you’ll be able to find additional interesting information using the #mhealthdubai tag on Twitter as well.

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