Mobile Phones in Health Care in Uganda: The AppLab Study

Abinwi C Nchise, Richard Boateng, Ignatius Shu, Victor Mbarika


This study explores the preliminary lessons in the use of mobile phones to promote access to health care information in Uganda. The project under study is the AppLab Uganda Project which operates a Health Tips application, educating users on sexual and reproductive health. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with project developers, partners, medical practitioners and IT journalists and a survey of 149 people randomly selected from two tertiary educational institutions in Uganda. Findings tend to suggest that the need to access health information via mobile text messages is mediated by cost incentives, misconceptions of brand name ‘Google SMS’, and content relevance. There are questions concerning the appropriateness of text messaging as compared to using voice calls to access health information. These issues have implications on the objectives of the health care project and the individual strategies of project partners. Preliminary conclusions emphasize the need to integrate a referral system to registered health professionals and facilities and the need for education and/or a marketing strategy with an indigenous branding to address the misconception of the brand name ‘Google SMS’. Implications for research, policy, and practice are outlined.


Mobile health, health care information, Uganda, Google

Full Text:


The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries.
ISSN: 1681-4835