Healthcare has been an important subject of discussion since time immemorial. Scientists, doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare providers are always engaging in new and innovative methods to improve the healthcare system. Subsequently, these ingenious methods seek assistance from evolving technology. With the advent of the smartphone and its corresponding technology, the healthcare system is now witnessing a sea-change. Today, in the blink of an eye millions of lives are being saved, all thanks to mobile technology.
In 2012, several countries jumped the bandwagon of mobile technology, with about six billion subscriptions in developed countries, and about four and a half billion in emerging nations. Interestingly, both China and India signed up subscriptions worth one billion each. With these staggering statistics, the global health community has been swift and proactive to notice budding opportunities. Furthermore, in terms of accessibility and affordability, mobile phones make an inviting platform for healthcare professionals.
Over the last few years, several small scale healthcare projects and activities have been launched with the assistance from mobile technology. The chief objective of launching such services is to render immediate healthcare at the micro – level. For instance, Project Mwana (ChildCount) is based on RapidSMS, whereby people are informed of new healthcare services and how they can avail them. Project Masiluleke, launched in South Africa, is the promotion of HIV/AIDS prevention in real-time via SMS. While the EpiSurveyor application collects data for analytical research and developments in the medical field, CommCare is yet another mobile application that manages patients’ records and offers clinical decision support in real-time, and the list is endless.
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Although the automation and digitization of the healthcare system is still in its infancy stage, it is progressing at a highly rapid pace. With contributions from enterprises like CommCare and DataDyne, mobile technology and smartphones today are actively being used for public health. And, with the easy accessibility of tablets and smartphones in middle and low income countries, a new avenue for healthcare workers has been opened. For instance, in rural India, receiving immediate clinical decision support is readily available in Internet booths, laptops, and of course mobile phones.
The humble mobile phone along with the smart use of technology is successfully resolving healthcare problems for the ‘bottom three billion’ people. We still require developing affordable healthcare products and devices to effectively meet the ever growing demand for healthcare services across the globe. We are not far from the dream of a perfect healthy world, where immediate healthcare is rendered to patients; all that is required is brainstorming in new ways. With the shaping of positive undercurrents in the field of medical sciences, the joint partnership between mobile technology and medicines is paving new methods of improving the world, daily.
It is only fair to say, the mobile phone is an electrifying gadget for augmenting healthcare service delivery.
Edited by Brooke Neuman