Methods: Two 60-minute focus group sessions were conducted with nurses and community health workers, offering services to patients in safety-net settings in Washington DC. The three focused topics evaluated were: (1) role of mobile health tools in supporting health; (2) perceived value of an mHealth clinical practice guide to inform patient care; (3) perceived role of mobile technology in increasing access for diverse ethnic communities. Provider responses were tape-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for common themes. The method of analysis included evaluating focus group questions for codewords, codewords were then organized into codeword clusters, and then clusters assessed to derive themes/concepts. Respondents were offered $75 for participation.
Results: Nurses see mobile health tools like tracking devices and health apps as valuable for improving data accuracy, treatment delivery, and facilitating immediate responses in emergency health situations; one respondent notes, “…if they were wearing an app and I had access to it as a (provider) and I could see their vital signs over the last 24 hours, I would be like this is amazing!” A clinical practice guide supporting mHealth practices is welcomed by care-providers with the recommendation that such a guide is interactive, simple to use and presents research-tested mobile devices; “…that’s where I think the apps would be very handy, because they are going to be sort of an approved app by your provider; something that’s consistent where the message is consistent, and it’s not going to increase any anxiety.” Finally, the healthcare providers perceive value of mobile health technology when working with ethnically diverse communities; they see the technology as providing a direct link to the patient and provider, thus building trust and improving relationships.
Conclusion: Direct-care providers, like nurses, recognize the value of mobile health technologies to advance patient outcomes by facilitating immediate responses, and helping to build patient-provider relationships through bidirectional communication. A clinical practice guide supporting implementation of incoming mHealth information is perceived to be necessary to advance clinical interactions.