Google’s use of mobile health technology in Haiti could foreshadow their plans for mobile medicine

Dr. Roni Zeigler, Chief Health Strategist at Google, recently released a fantastic video shows how mobile technology was and is being used in the continued response to the Haiti earthquake.

Interesting takeaways from the video[embedded below]:

1) The video shows how physicians have been using their iPhone’s to document patients – making electronic health records on the fly so follow up care can be improved.

2) FrontlineSMS and others have built a SMS short code so healthcare provides can send a message to the 4636 short code, and that information can be aggregated and mapped to show current healthcare needs in a particular area [picture on left].

3) Google has developed an application called “Resource Finder”, in collaboration with the NGOs on the ground (5:31 mark of video).

Based on a patient’s needs, Resource Finder allows healthcare providers to search through all the hospitals in Haiti and send patients to the appropriate place. For example, if you have a patient who needs an orthopedist, you can search through all the hospitals that can provide orthopedic care – and then view how many beds are available – all in real time.

Google’s main business is search, and they obviously do it well. The application they developed, Resource Finder, although simple, shows how Google can combine search and healthcare using aggregated data. Google’s ability to mine data could be a godsend to those in Public Health who want to collectively aggregate populations based data in order to find correlations.

Now all we need are health care collaborates and Google to communicate in order to make this a reality – and with HIPAA, IRB, and other potential barriers – there will be a lot to get through before this happens. But Resource Finder shows Google can use health care data and geo-location tools in order to improve public health.


Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is also the founder of iPrescribeApps, a platform for prescribing apps to patients. Dr. Husain has given lectures on digital medicine globally. He went to North Carolina State University for undergrad and went to medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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