mHealth: A Developing Country Perspective - Mobile World Live

mHealth: A Developing Country Perspective

03 DEC 2010

"The health care environment is currently changing, and the health sector is being transformed to meet new challenges and to benefit from new opportunities. Priorities for the 21st century ought to be set based on emerging dominant trends in health care, including the shift towards shared or integrated care, in which an individual's health care is the responsibility of a team of professionals across all levels of the health care system hierarchy. In addition to the requirement for efficient and secure access to the integrated electronic health record (iEHR) of a citizen, this necessitates the development and deployment of regional health information networks (RHINs), synchronous and asynchronous collaboration services, and novel eHealth and mobile health (mHealth) services, facilitated by intelligent sensors, monitoring devices, hand-held or wearable technologies, the Internet and wireless broadband communications. These further require the adoption of an open reference architecture and the creation of a scalable health information infrastructure (HII).

According to the ITU, the total number of mobile users worldwide as of late 2006 was about 2.7 billion and the number of Internet users was just above 1.1 billion. This means that there is at least 23.6% of world population (and at least 22.2% of developing countries' population) that already has mobile phones but is not yet using the Internet. Mobile services are quickly emerging as the new frontier in transforming government and making it even more accessible and citizen-centric by extending the benefits of remote delivery of government services and information to those who are unable or unwilling to access public services through the Internet or who simply prefer to use mobile devices. In theory, many government services can be now made available on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year basis at any place in the world covered by mobile networks, which today means almost everywhere. Approximately 50%-60% of government services including primary health management can be delivered via mobile channel.

mHealth is one of the major challenges being faced by both medical practice and health care policies. The impact of mHealth is likely to be more far-reaching than other developments such as nanomedicine and genetic therapy, as it will create an urgent need to review the way health care is financed and blur the boundaries between professional medical help and so-called "do-it yourself" medicine (i.e. minor treatment or selfmedication without consulting a physician, but based on previous medical treatment experience, popular medical literature, or a pharmacist's advice). On current trends, mHealth systems will be more widely offered by mobile phone providers, and simple, yet important functions may even be offered as built-in features of mobile phones. This, in turn, will imply that technology providers account for a larger than ever share of the total value of medical services. Consequently, systems for the provision of medical care may have to accommodate new expenses incurred by services from outside of the traditional health care system."

Source: Mishra, S., Singh, I. P., 2008.

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