LIVE FROM mHEALTH SUMMIT, WASHINGTON DC: Mobile technologies offer emerging countries the chance not to make the same mistakes as western countries whose health systems are collapsing under cost, said Mark Blatt, Intel’s worldwide medical director, during his keynote.

“Emerging countries have the opportunity to develop virtual care systems and pair them with bricks-and-mortar infrastructure from the ground-up,” said Blatt. Meanwhile the west has to impose mobile systems on existing health infrastructure, which is a harder task.

Blatt also suggested that using mobile devices to consume health information should only be a first step, followed by their use for sharing data. “If you are just consuming data then you are not taking full advantage,” he said.

As an example of its strategy, Blatt pointed to Ghana where Intel is working with the country’s government to see mobile devices used for training health professionals.

Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, director general of Ghana’s health service, was also present at the keynote. In addition to Intel, he said the country was looking at other public-private partnerships to take the scheme forwards.

The country has backed the use of netbooks in the initiative rather than smartphones and tablets. Appiah-Denkyira said netbooks were chosen because they are more cost-effective and enable content creation as well as consumption. A netbook approach is also more in keeping with Intel’s own strategy.