How Mobile Technology Is Improving Healthcare Access for Everyone
When we think about mobile technology, the first thing that usually comes to mind is how convenient it’s made our lives when it comes to both work and play. It helps us collaborate with our coworkers while also giving us immediate access to our favorite sources of entertainment. However, did you know that it can also be used for a more important and noble purpose, such as improving healthcare access for everyone all over the world? It definitely can, and here are some of the ways that it can do just that.
It helps those in remote areas receive access to healthcare more easily.
Just as mobile technology like smartphones and tablets help us connect with our loved ones no matter the distance, so too can it help patients in remote areas access healthcare services whenever they need it.
Referred to as telemedicine, this type of healthcare delivery system connects doctors and licensed health providers to patients from remote or rural areas, facilitating remote medical consultation and treatment over the phone.
By being able to directly communicate with the doctor regardless of distance, the patient can have a better handle of their current health condition and figure out their treatment options without having to make the arduous and expensive trip to the nearest hospital or clinic. This obviously helps cut down costs on the patient’s side, while also ensuring that they get the medical attention they need in a timely fashion.
Conversely, telemedicine also helps hospitals and healthcare providers to launch health and wellness initiatives in remote areas without having to expend a large amount of expenses needed to fly doctors, staff and equipment to those areas. One example of this being used to great effect happened in 2015, with Kenya launching a national telemedicine initiative to enable patients in rural areas to connect with doctors at Kenya’s main hospital, namely Kenyatta National Hospital.
Because of this, patients were able to consult their long-standing health conditions with health experts through videoconferencing and get the treatment they needed without having to make the long and challenging journey to the hospital.
Another example is how Now Health International, a trusted international health insurance firm, is using telemedicine services to provide quality health services to their expatriate policy holders, with some being stationed in remote locations all over the world.
It helps doctors and health staff share information more quickly and efficiently.
Mobile technology also allows doctors and health experts exchange information with each other across long distances. Social media, for instance, allows doctors from all over the world to meet each other to share experiences, knowledge, and advice, all of which can help improve how they provide healthcare to their local patients. Cloud-based storage systems, wherein medical data like images and test results can be quickly uploaded and shared, can be accessed by doctors and health experts on the field via their mobile devices.
All this results in a constant flow of medical information and sharing of expertise that is ultimately cheaper and more efficient than traditional methods that perform the same function—such as courier services and medical convention events.
This particular feature of mobile technology in healthcare access can also extend to the training and education of medical students, doctors in training, and newly hired healthcare staff. By allowing them to access the information they need no matter where they are, they can grow into their roles more easily and efficiently. This can go a long way towards increasing the number of available health experts and staff to attend to a specific area or country’s medical needs.
It helps poorer hospitals and areas have access to critical medical equipment.
Smartphone technology has also begun to increase the availability of critical medical technology, not just to big hospitals and health organizations, but also to those in developing nations and remote areas. Many inventors have taken notice of the fact that mobile technology has advanced to the point that we are carrying relatively cheap yet powerful computers in our pockets. As such, they have begun to create smaller and cheaper versions of critical medical equipment that takes advantage of that processing power.
For example, Canadian tech firm Lionsgate Technologies came out with the Kenek Edge Pulse Oximeter, an oximeter that connects to Apple iPhones, iPads and even the iPod touch. Its asking price, a mere US$40.99, pales in comparison to the hefty fee that modern hospital-grade oximeters go for. Other devices such as smartphone-compatible ultrasound machines have also hit commercial availability, with a price point that is also considerably lower than those that come with their professional counterparts. No doubt we will see similar inventions come out in the future.
As mobile technology is already ubiquitous all over the world, this miniaturization of medical devices will ensure that all doctors and health staff—even those stationed in remote and rural areas—will have access to critical medical equipment no matter their budget or lack thereof.
Mobile technology is often taken for granted nowadays, with many seeing it as simply a source of entertainment and communication. However, all it takes is some creative repurposing and innovation in order to use it for a higher and more beneficial purpose, such as improving healthcare access for everyone. Hospitals and healthcare organizations should do well to take advantage of this readily available technology for their own benefit, as well as that of their patients’.