Mobile technology for health: A look to developing nations
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORM is not an independent aspect that impacts on society from external, but technology and society are mutually constitutive. Like the television in the 1950s and the internet in the 1990s, mobile phones have emerged as one of the essential communication technologies of our time. It has been said that the diffusion of mobile phones have been the fastest for any information and communication technology in human history.
Mobile phones are becoming prolific in society, both in developed and developing countries. A growing number of countries are using mobile technology to address health needs. The m-health field is remarkably dynamic, and the variety of applications being designed is frequently increasing. Mobile phones being cost effective, easy to carry, personal in nature, less power dependent, easy to expand and upgrade, and simple to operate with huge exposure prove to be the single most valuable healthcare delivery device. Uses of mobiles in healthcare include:
l Remote Data Collection
l Remote Monitoring
l Communication and Training of Healthcare Workers
l Disease and Epidemic Outbreak Tracking
l Diagnostic and Treatment Support
l Behavior Change/ Remodeling
Mobile technology has prolonged fabulously around the world. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011-2016, “the global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016 and by the end of that time period, it is projected that there will be 10 billion mobile devices in use around the world”. In conjunction with 3G and 4G, these advances have marked a huge impact on many walks of life. Now this technology is floating to alter how healthcare is delivered, the quality of the patient experience, and the cost of healthcare. M-health – the utilization of mobile applications for health – is a young and energetic field that could improve the well-being of people around the world. As a junction of health, technology, and finance, m-health is also a complex engineering where it can be difficult to develop sustainable business models. In a nutshell, mobile health evidently has expanded in number and type of initiatives and it is expected to become a multi-billion dollar field by 2017.
M-health – mobile health information technology characteristically refers to handy devices with the ability to create, store, repossess and transmit data in real time to improve patient wellbeing and the quality of care. The flow of mobile health information is characterized by portable hardware together with software applications and patient data that travels across wireless networks. Data transmission is comprehended by technologies that are common in everyday life, including cell phone, Bluetooth, infra-red, WiFi, and wired technologies, all of which function as part of a network. M-health development and utilization is diverse and profound, in clinical practice a clinician can use a mobile device to access a patients electronic health record (EHR), write and transmit prescriptions to a pharmacy, interact with patient treatment plans, and communicate public health data, order diagnostic tests, review labs, or access medical references. M-health applications can also support to ensure social accountability. By using these applications, governments can establish feedback loops that individuals can use to provide feedback on government services, doctors, and care workers. In addition, m-health can help patients obtain the right information quickly and better understand their diagnoses and treatments.
Developing countries endure from pervasive health troubles that are less frequent or nonexistent in developed countries. In recent years the bulk of global attention to health has focused on communicable diseases, particularly the effort to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of controlling HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis by 2015. Subsequently, developing countries have heavy burdens of health problems due to idiosyncratic events. When natural disasters occur, these countries are often not operational to compact with the resulting health emergencies. In this regards, mobile applications can play a pivotal role in identifying areas of greatest need, targeting services, and maintaining public awareness in emergency situations and after crises. In Pakistan, the national healthcare system is still struggling to deliver affordable access to healthcare to all citizens. Despite the potential it holds, m-health deployment is presently narrow in the country. Imperative actions are therefore needed to break down barriers to the widespread adoption of mobile technology in healthcare and, most urgently are the need to increase knowledge and awareness of the potential impact of m-health among healthcare organizations, patients, and other stakeholders in country. M-health has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of healthcare in Pakistan.
“With medical knowledge expanding every day, no physician can keep up without help. By using high-tech medical communication, high-performance computers, high resolution video, and fiber-optic information “Superhighways”, we have been able to put the entire world of medical science at the fingertips of even the most isolated rural family doctor” – C. Everett Koop.