Mobile technology for community health in Ghana: Is maternal messaging and provider use of technology cost-effective in improving maternal and child health outcomes at scale?

Michelle Willcox, Anitha Moorthy, Diwakar Mohan, Karen Romano, David Hutchful, Garrett Mehl, Alain Labrique, Amnesty LeFevre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Mobile technologies are emerging as tools to enhance health service delivery systems and empower clients to improve maternal, newborn, and child health. Limited evidence exists on the value for money of mobile health (mHealth) programs in low- and middle-income countries. Objective: This study aims to forecast the incremental cost-effectiveness of the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative at scale across 170 districts in Ghana. Methods: MOTECH’s “Client Data Application” allows frontline health workers to digitize service delivery information and track the care of patients. MOTECH’s other main component, the “Mobile Midwife,” sends automated educational voice messages to mobile phones of pregnant and postpartum women. We measured program costs and consequences of scaling up MOTECH over a 10-year analytic time horizon. Economic costs were estimated from informant interviews and financial records. Health effects were modeled using the Lives Saved Tool with data from an independent evaluation of changes in key services coverage observed in Gomoa West District. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were presented overall and for each year of implementation. Uncertainty analyses assessed the robustness of results to changes in key parameters. Results: MOTECH was scaled in clusters over a 3-year period to reach 78.7% (170/216) of Ghana’s districts. Sustaining the program would cost US $17,618 on average annually per district. Over 10 years, MOTECH could potentially save an estimated 59,906 lives at a total cost of US $32 million. The incremental cost per disability-adjusted life year averted ranged from US $174 in the first year to US $6.54 in the tenth year of implementation and US $20.94 (95% CI US $20.34-$21.55) over 10 years. Uncertainty analyses suggested that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was most sensitive to changes in health effects, followed by personnel time. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses suggested that MOTECH had a 100% probability of being cost-effective above a willingness-to-pay threshold of US $50. Conclusions: This is the first study to estimate the value for money of the supply- and demand-side of an mHealth initiative. The adoption of MOTECH to improve MNCH service delivery and uptake represents good value for money in Ghana and should be considered for expansion. Integration with other mHealth solutions, including e-Tracker, may provide opportunities to continue or combine beneficial components of MOTECH to achieve a greater impact on health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11268
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Child health
  • Frontline health workers
  • Ghana
  • Health information systems
  • MHealth
  • Maternal health
  • Mobile phone
  • Newborn health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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