By ICTpost mHealth Bureau
Health issues are complex. They involve multiple stakeholders, span across governments and private sector and impact multiple industries. They require significant investments in infrastructure, human resources and technology. Furthermore, they are challenging to understand for non-health specialists and are often hard to communicate simply and effectively to the general public.
Mobile health can enable policymakers, medical practitioners and facility operators to contact large numbers of people with a high degree of accuracy, ensuring that specific health information about diagnosis or treatment can be communicated to those who need it. India is a rapidly growing market for mobile services. Increasing bandwidth is enabling more complex services to be delivered to mobile devices, particularly as the adoption of smartphones increases. Fortunately, widespread adoption of mHealth requires relatively low investment, since the necessary infrastructure is already in the hands of millions of citizens.
As Indian government is looking to lift citizens out of poverty and lay the foundations for a more equitable society, healthcare is a critical challenge—one mobile technology is eminently well-suited to address.
In countries where few births are attended by skilled personnel (49 percent in India and 39 percent in Pakistan and Bangladesh), mHealth could fill the gap, increasing the flow of information to pregnant women through SMS campaigns and providing prenatal advice at every stage of their gestation.
When it comes to communicable diseases, the projections for mHealth-driven improvements are equally striking. Part of the reason is that for a disease such as tuberculosis, contact from frontline workers is critical in minimizing the risk of the disease being spread by those infected and in ensuring that patients complete their treatment and manage the side effects of the drugs they are taking.
Enhancing data collection
If mobile phones can be tools for remote diagnostics, they also allow patients and healthcare providers to access health records remotely, speeding up processes, avoiding duplication, and saving between 20 and 30 percent in administrative costs. The integration of remote data, collected in real time through home-based monitoring systems, devices or wearable sensors, into the EMR has long been a topic of discussion in mHealth circles. Critics have worried than an infusion of new data could make EMRs – which have a rocky history of performance and acceptance among providers – even more cumbersome and therefore less likely to be implemented. Mobile devices could be used to collect data from populations of healthy people interested in assisting with studies of preventative healthcare, as well as by cohorts suffering with intermittent and chronic ailments. Data sets collected from mobile devices and inexpensive sensors at home can provide new insights about wellness and disease. Such data sets can also be used to create predictive models and decisions systems that provide new kinds of services—some of which can be targeted for fielding on mobile devices.
Recognize huge cost savings
· Lower the total annual per capita Indian healthcare spend for patients benefitting from mHealth solutions
· Reduce care costs for chronic conditions by 30 to 35 per cent through improved treatment compliance and remote patient monitoring
· Help millions of patients lead healthier lives and gain extra years of life
· Empower almost 23 million people that either have a chronic disease or are at risk of developing one to improve their condition through preventive measures and lifestyle improvements
· Provide 50 million people at risk of developing chronic diseases with access to earlier diagnosis, and enable chronic patients and elderly patients to benefit from remote treatment and monitoring
Enhance resource efficiency
· Accommodate the treatment of an additional 24.5 million patients without requiring more doctors or new healthcare facilities
· Address the shortage of doctors across India by saving a combined 42 million doctor working days in 2017, extending treatment to an additional 126 million patients
· Help patients suffering from chronic diseases or at risk of developing them to stay healthier and improve their productivity, contributing a further increase in India’s GDP