mHealth for diabetes self-management in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: barriers and solutions
Health Information Management and Technology Department, College of Public Health, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Purpose: In this paper I present a perspective of mobile health (mHealth) technologies for diabetes in conjunction with an overview of the current status of mHealth technologies for diabetes self-management and the clinical evidence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition, a small survey to identify the barriers to mHealth for diabetes care in the Kingdom and the relevant solutions are discussed.
Participants and methods: In order to study the relevant obstacles for adopting mHealth solutions for diabetes care and to suggest appropriate solutions, a small survey study was conducted with a specific questionnaire deployed to >40 anonymous leading health care professionals and decision-makers of the Kingdom. The survey was distributed by means of a link to the target population through a WhatsApp group. The data were collected during 1 month, and three reminders were sent to the group to complete the survey. Basic descriptive statistics were used to analyze the survey data.
Results: The high percentages of agreement among the participants suggest that mHealth expertise and human shortage; funding and infrastructure investments; legal, privacy standardization and regulatory obstacles; and health care organizational and bureaucracy impediments are barriers to the implementation of mHealth technologies in the self-management of diabetes in this region. However, most of these barriers can be mitigated by the creation of the appropriate leadership and clinical environment in the current health care system.
Conclusion: The mHealth technologies for diabetes self-management have not yet been translated successfully in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it was detected in the literature review carried out in this work. Among other possibilities, the causes of this situation are the existence of human, organizational, funding, bureaucracy, and legal barriers, as shown by the results of the survey conducted among decision-makers and senior clinicians of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: mHealth, diabetes self-management, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, barriers and solutions
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