Study Protocol: Mobile Improvement of Self-Management Ability through Rural Technology (mI SMART).

There are 62 million Americans currently residing in rural areas who are more likely to have multiple chronic conditions and be economically disadvantaged, and in poor health, receive less recommended preventive services and attend fewer visits to health care providers. Recent advances in mobile healthcare (mHealth) offer a promising new approach to solving health disparities and improving chronic illness care. It is now possible and affordable to transmit health information, including values from glucometers, automated blood pressure monitors, and scales, through Bluetooth-enabled devices. Additionally, audio and video communications technologies can allow healthcare providers to conduct many parts of a physical exam remotely from varied settings. These technologies could remove geographical distance as a barrier to care and diminish the access to care issues faced by patients who live rurally. However, currently there is lack of studies that provide evidence of feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of mHealth initiatives on improved outcomes of care, a needed step to make the translation to implementation studies in healthcare systems. The purpose of this paper is to present the protocol for the first study of mI SMART (mobile Improvement of Self-Management Ability through Rural Technology), a new integrated mHealth