Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Technology, Mobile Health

The new way cell phones are doing just about everything? They are now able to deliver and track health care services, a practice referred to as mHealth. The Mobile Health Summit is being held in Cape Town, South Africa this week. The World Health Organization put together a report on mHealth, which focuses on the impact cell phones and the internet have on access to health care. The report says that more than 70 percent of mobile subscribers live in low- and middle-income countries. Wireless signals exist in 85 percent of the world, meaning that places that might not have electricity or running water could have wireless access.

Slow and outdated data can make health care difficult in many places around the world. Dr. Joel Selanikio experienced these difficulties, which inspired him to create EpiSurveyor, a mobile application that is a way of organizing and sharing health care data. "We can fix one problem, which is the data collection part. We can nail that one down, and that's what we've done with EpiSurveyor." said Selanikio.

Other mHealth companies, like Mobenzi in South Africa, uses mobile devices for data collection and patient care. The app helps people schedule appointments as well as send pictures to specialists to help diagnose patients.

"We can really transmit or help patients at the bottom of the pyramid in the poorest communities, in the most under-serviced communities, with the most basic phones and connectivity," said Craig Friderichs who works with the mobile health initiative for GSMA, a global trade organization for the world's largest GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) network operators. This technology is an exciting an innovative step for health care in poorer countries.

-Sami Ressler