Mechael takes the helm at mHealth Alliance

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 14, 2011        

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gI_105680_PattyMechaelThe mHealth Alliance (mHA) appointed Patricia Mechael (PhD, MHS) as its executive director. Mechael has been active in the mHealth field for over a decade, using mobile technology to improve healthcare in Africa and other low- and middle-income areas. She was previously the director of strategic application of mobile technology for public health and development at the center for global health and economic development at the Earth Institute.

Last year Mechael had one of the more memorable presentations at the mHealth Summit, where she shared 10 lessons learned from global mobile health deployments.

The mHealth Alliance is a consortium created in 2009 by the Vodafone Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the UN Foundation that aims to further policy research, advocacy, and support for mHealth globally, especially in developing nations. Its founding members now include PEPFAR, HP, and the GSM Association.

“Mobile health offers innovative solutions to some of global health’s most pressing issues,” stated Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the mHA Partnership Board, in a press release. “Under Dr. Mechael’s leadership, the mHealth Alliance will continue to mobilize this innovation in order to deliver quality health to the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices.”

“We’re at a tipping point in the mHealth field,” stated Mechael in a press release. “There is an unanticipated demand for mHealth and we cannot afford the fragmentation the field is experiencing. The mHealth Alliance is in a strong position to provide leadership in the direction, standards, tools, support mechanisms and fora needed to move mHealth forward.”

The alliance’s executive director position has been vacant since its first leader, David Aylward, decided to step down from the position to focus “his talents and commitment to mHealth… on delivery of mHealth rather than running the multi-faceted Alliance.” That’s how UN Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kathy Calvin explained Aylward’s departure in an email to mHA partners in March of this year. Aylward had held the position since the fall of 2009 — shortly after the founding of the mHA. MobiHealthNews interviewed Aylward about his position at the mHealth Alliance shortly after he joined as its leader in September 2009.

Read the full press release about Mechael’s appointment below.

PRESS RELEASE — The United Nations Foundation and the mHealth Alliance (mHA) today announced the appointment of Patricia (Patty) Mechael, PhD, MHS, as the mHA’s new Executive Director. In this role, Mechael will lead the mHA in strategy development and implementation, partner outreach and engagement, and thought leadership in conjunction with the mHA Partnership Board.

“Mobile health offers innovative solutions to some of global health’s most pressing issues,” said Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the mHA Partnership Board. “Under Dr. Mechael’s leadership, the mHealth Alliance will continue to mobilize this innovation in order to deliver quality health to the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices.”

The mHA, hosted by the UN Foundation, is the convener of the mobile health (mHealth) ecosystem. It works to unite and advance existing mHealth initiatives and promotes an enabling environment to scale and sustain innovative and interoperable solutions among governments, the mobile industry, NGOs, international agencies, and academic institutions. The mHA’s diverse founding partners include the UN Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, HP, PEPFAR, and the GSM Association.

Mechael has been actively involved in global health for 15 years mostly in Africa, more than 10 of which have been focused on leveraging mobile technology to improve health outcomes and service delivery in low- and middle-income countries. She has worked and advises on research, program design and implementation, strategic planning, and policy development for a broad range of mHealth initiatives.

“Dr. Mechael’s expertise covers a wide range of issues in the mobile health field,” said Rick Parnell, Chief Operating Officer of the UN Foundation and a member of the mHA Partnership Board. “Her unique experience makes her enthusiasm for the advancement of mHealth across the globe ideal for this role.”

Mechael is joining the mHA at a critical time in the evolution and expansion of mHealth technology and implementation. “We’re at a tipping point in the mHealth field,” Mechael commented. “There is an unanticipated demand for mHealth and we cannot afford the fragmentation the field is experiencing. The mHealth Alliance is in a strong position to provide leadership in the direction, standards, tools, support mechanisms and fora needed to move mHealth forward.”

Prior to this new position, Mechael has served as Director of Strategic Application of Mobile Technology for Public Health and Development at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development at the Earth Institute , where she has spent the past four years designing, implementing and evaluating mHealth in the Millennium Villages Project. “Dr. Mechael has been an outstanding leader and advocate for using mHealth to advance public health systems across Africa,” said Joanna Rubinstein, DDS, PhD, Director of the Center for Global Health and Economic Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University. “Her research in the Millennium Villages Project has led to innovation in the field, informed national policies, and helped to put mHealth onto the global health policy agenda.”

Mechael will maintain her faculty and advisory affiliations with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the School for International and Public Affairs. She has already begun collaborating with the mHA staff and partners and will begin full-time duties as the Executive Director position full-time in mid-October.

About the mHealth Alliance

The mHealth Alliance (mHA) mobilizes innovation to deliver quality health at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices. Working with diverse partners, the mHA advances mHealth through research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. The mHA sponsors innovation challenges and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (Health Unbound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the UN Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Vodafone Foundation, the mHA now also includes PEPFAR, HP, and the GSM Association among its founding partners. For more information, visit http://www.mhealthalliance.org.

About the UN Foundation

The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. These campaigns focus on reducing child mortality, empowering women and girls, creating a new energy future, securing peace and human rights, and promoting technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global tar