Time to Call the Doctor in Your Pocket?

February 19, 2009

A new initiative was launched at the Mobile World Congress trade show that aims to take advantage of mobile phones to help foster better healthcare worldwide.

A new initiative was launched at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona this week that aims to take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile phones to help foster better healthcare around the world.

Several weeks ago we heard about how cell phones can be used to test for diseases when labs and clinics aren't available. The Rockefeller Foundation, the UN Foundation and The Vodafone Foundation announced the Mobile Health (mHealth) Alliance this week in Barcelona, a new initiative that hopes to put cell phones to better use and expand the availability of care.

Quoting Terry Kramer, strategy director at British operator Vodafone, the AFP reports, "When you consider that there are 2.2 billion mobile phones in the developing world, 305 million computers but only 11 million hospital beds you can instantly see how mobiles can create effective solutions to address health care challenges."

Forrester analyst Elizabeth Boehm said, "One of the main challenges, in mobile health, is that people who are most in need of health care are usually more aged, so they don't use the mobile or they're not comfortable with it." One of the goals of the mHealth Alliance is to change that.

Mobile phones are capable of monitoring blood glucose, administering tests, reminding patients when to take their medicines, and used as alternative means to contact healthcare professionals to provide care over-the-phone when they aren't available in person.

The mHealth Alliance is charged with increasing the awareness of how these tools can be put to better use.