Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 26, 2011

Healthcare Technology and News: University of Cambridge Publishes Research Report on Mobile Healthcare and its Efficacy

University of Cambridge’s computer laboratory revealed the results of a new research on how mobile networks are helping in the advancement of healthcare in developing and developed countries.

In a release Professor Ian Leslie, lead author of the report from the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, said, “We saw an enormous range of existing mHealth applications in the course of our research, and our work with academics identified even more ideas for an even greater range.  Of particular interest is the use of social networking techniques to track epidemics.”

The new research highlights the use of mobile networks in dealing with multiple aspects of healthcare in both developing and developed countries.  It indicates how mobile network operators can enhance medical care further. 

University of Cambridge researchers worked with China Mobile, a large mobile network provider, and found that mobile health or “mHealth” applications leveraged every aspect of healthcare encompassing diagnosis, patient administration, drug delivery assurance, aftercare, chronic monitoring and health education in China and across the globe. 

Using case studies in China, the researchers were able to assess the potential of mobile networks to enhance healthcare and health promotion there.  The University’s communications, healthcare and business capabilities were used to study the emerging and developed markets for mHealth worldwide. 

Analysts found that there existed significant differences in deployment of mHealth initiatives. In cases where healthcare systems were deployed earlier it was found to be difficult to deploy applications that interact strongly with the healthcare system. 

Leslie added, “However, there were two things of note that we didn’t find deployed other than in limited trials: the use of information gathered by mobile applications to inform public health, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of applications. These are missed opportunities.”

It was revealed that innovation in mHealth applications will mostly come from economies that have a rapidly evolving healthcare system like China. mHealth applications that interact marginally with healthcare systems, like those that monitor well-being, and innovations in these areas are most likely to occur in developed economies, said the report.

Simon Sherrington, research co-author, said, “mHealth is revolutionizing how we can provide universal access to safe, effective healthcare. In low-income economies, mobile communications will be able to deliver training to clinicians and remote decision support using either automated analysis of data or real-time contact with specialists.”

In low-income economies, mHealth can improve access to services in remote areas where conventional means of health delivery is difficult. mHealth initiatives help in disseminating information on medical advances and aid in data gathering from remote areas during disease outbreaks, enabling better research and response planning.

The report published along with China Mobile’s 2010 Sustainability Report, in Beijing is available for download at

Shamila Janakiraman is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of Shamila’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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