Towards an inclusive mHealth innovation framework for South Africa: a case study
Inclusive mHealth innovation aims to not only stimulate the National System of Innovation but also to unlock the mHealth development domain that is currently dominated by a select few large innovation houses. By encouraging and facilitating non-traditional innovators to co-create solutions for local needs, inclusive mHealth innovation can tap into existing lucrative markets and adopt innovations for local relevant consumption. This study set out to identify and describe the components for an inclusive mHealth innovation framework for South Africa through a case study of the reHealthAfrica innovation initiative. Two scoping literature reviews were conducted. The first review was to explore and describe the components that constitute mHealth innovation for public healthcare in order to conceptualise mHealth and mHealth innovation; and to identify the components of mHealth innovation by describing their requirements, barriers and challenges. The second review was to explore the concept of inclusive mHealth innovation described and derived as a generic set of components. The study then frames these generic components with the component based approach to describe activities within an innovation ecosystem. Five components were then transposed on the findings from the scoping literature reviews and seven working hypotheses presented in a working hypothesis conceptual framework, which guided the document analysis. The reHealthAfrica innovation initiative uses the Demola Innovation Model and was selected as a single, holistic case for this study. The case records included written reports and published artefacts (n=28, n=17) that reflected on the actions and activities in the reHealthAfrica initiative. These records are available in the public domain. An all-inclusive sample was applied after this study was approved by the Scientific Committee of the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR). The researchers confirmed that no formal ethical approval was necessary because all the data in the case records is accessible to the public via the Internet. Document analysis was conducted according to a data sheet which presented the components of an innovation system (innovations, actors and networks, knowledge and learning, relationships, institutions) and the seven working hypotheses (n=7) deduced from the first and second scoping literature reviews. Firstly inclusive innovation systems for mHealth negotiate consumer (also referring to the patient) wants and supply side needs regarding healthcare. Secondly, the inclusion of alternative and non-traditional innovators. Thirdly, to incorporate bridges and connectors early into the innovation process. Fourthly, to plan and operationalise a purposefully structured domain relevant to learning. Fifthly, to accommodate structured and informal relations; and sixthly, to develop structures that can facilitate relations which are both organic and flexible as well as formal and contracted. The seventh working hypothesis was that those responsible for operationalising inclusive innovation initiatives to be able to feed into strategy formulation. The document analysis evidenced the support of all of the working hypotheses and leads to a refined framework for mHealth innovation in South Africa.
- Health Sciences