NIH Seeks mHealth for LMICs

Participating organizations within NIH have issued the funding announcement on May 2016, titled “Mobile Health: Technology and Outcomes in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC)” NIH hopes to receive research applications proposing research that will develop or adapt innovative mHealth technology specifically suited for LMICs.

The potential of mHealth is especially relevant to LMICs where cell phone ownership is rising rapidly, but access to healthcare and providers is often limited. In 2011, The World Health Organization published a report that shows that over 50 percent of low income and low middle income countries display a lack of knowledge of possible mHealth applications and public health outcomes.

Other barriers identified include health policies, competing priorities, high operating costs, and a lack of data regarding cost effectiveness and a lack of telecommunications infrastructure specific to low income countries.

While a mHealth research program will not be able to overcome all of the barriers to implementing mHealth, the research could help create the knowledge base and network of leading mHealth researchers if mHealth research and programs are going to be scaled up in the future.

Since the mHealth field is multidisciplinary, applicants should consider collaborations with researchers from diverse disciplines. These additional fields may include behavioral science, engineering, computer science, business, medicine, public health, and other relevant fields.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) within NIH includes several specific topics of particular interest to NIBIB in the funding notice related to telehealth that may be of interest to applicants.

Some of these include:

  • Developing integrated portable imaging technology as part of POC diagnosis and treatment
  • Developing early stage telehealth technologies in specific focus areas
  • Developing software and hardware tools for telehealth studies that have broad applications
  • Incorporating telemetry and remote access in acquiring, analyzing, and monitoring of biomedical data


The other participating organizations within NIH also looking for mHealth ideas include the Fogarty International Center, National Institute on deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

The funds available are contingent upon NIH appropriations and how many applications are submitted. Applicants may request up to $125,000 direct costs per year. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education, nonprofits, and for-profits including small businesses. The applications are due August 31, 2016, August 31, 2017, and August 31, 2018.

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