American Public Health Association Annual Meeting: Making the Case for Mobile


Making the Case for Mobile: How mobile clinics can advance health equity and align with healthcare organizations’ business objective presented at the 2022 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked innovation in primary care delivery including expansion of telemedicine, drive-through testing and vaccination sites, and “pop-up clinics. Longer-term trends emphasizing patient-centered, value-based care, and social determinants of health have also stimulated change.

Another innovation that has gained increased attention is the use of mobile health clinics – vehicles customized to deliver care, often in communities underserved by the traditional health care system. While the estimated 2,000 mobile clinics in the United States deliver many types of care, the most common are preventive services and primary care.

Mobile health programs have been shown to be effective in the management of chronic diseases, such as asthma and hypertension, as well as in the improvement of self-efficacy and participation in recommended screenings. While avoidable emergency room visits and increased use of preventive services reduce health care and societal costs, leaders of health care organizations, including public and private payers, clinics, and hospitals, often face more immediate financial pressures.

In this study, we explored how mobile clinics support the business objectives of health care organizations. By analyzing how health care leaders view mobile health programs and their impact on the organization’s bottom line, this study equips those who currently operate or plan to deploy mobile clinics with a business case framework.

We conducted 25 semi-structured key informant interviews with health care leaders to explore their views and experiences related to mobile health care. We used thematic analysis to identify patterns. An advisory group with expertise in mobile health, health management, and health care finance informed data collection and analysis.

In addition to improving health outcomes, mobile clinics can bolster business objectives of health care organizations including those related to budget, business strategy, organizational culture, and health equity. We created a conceptual framework that demonstrates how these factors, supported by community engagement and data, come together to form a business case for mobile health care.

Our research demonstrates that mobile clinics can contribute to health care organizations’ business goals by aligning with broader organizational strategies. It deepens our understanding of how mobile clinics can advance population and patient health goals while reconciling the business pressures that health care organizations face.