A few months ago, James BonTempo of Jhpiego, a public health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins, shared with us his thoughts on why mobile technology could transform the health of underserved populations. At the Health 2.0 Conference, Physician’s Interactive Holdings, known mainly for its subsidiary Skyscape.com, Inc., and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights announced another exciting new initiative to bring mobile health technology to the most underserved patients. The announcement of the Health eVillages project could allow this technology to reach the patients who would benefit the most from it in the first place.
The goal is to bring mobile medical reference and decision support technology to medical personnel saving lives in underserved regions of the world by providing them with mobile clinical reference and decision support tools for medical training, diagnostics and clinical references. In these areas, infrastructure all of kinds can be lacking – reliable roads, electricity, clean water (let alone hospitals and pharmacies). However, even in these environments, mobile telecommunications has often succeeded and could suggest mobile health could do well here.
“Putting these devices in the hands of healthcare professionals who require access to current treatment guidelines and references for chronic diseases, drug interaction guidance and medical specialties will help save lives,” said Donato Tramuto, founding partner, CEO and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive Holdings. “Health eVillages will arm clinicians with a ‘gold standard’ medical reference tool-kit, so they are prepared for any situation and are able to properly treat even the most unique medical conditions.”
Health eVillages is comprised of various organizations including international healthcare advocacy organizations, mobile healthcare solution providers, health information technology companies, communication providers as well as public health foundations. According to the website, their mission is to enable safe and efficient medical care in the most challenging clinical environments, anywhere in the world, by providing the latest in mobile healthcare technology.
“They will provide healthcare professionals in disadvantaged areas with new and refurbished mobile phones and handheld devices that do not require Internet access and are preloaded with clinical decision support reference tools to ensure caregivers and patients have access to updated medical references in remote locations. All devices include drug guides, medical alerts, journal summaries and references from over 50 medical publisher resources powered by Skyscape.com, Inc.”
This video explains the concept behind Health eVillages.
Some of the areas that the Health eVillages has conducted pilot projects in include areas such as Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and parts of the Gulf Coast. Through Skyscape, PIH brings to this project a cache of decision support tools, though the fact that many of these are likely to be of more use in industrialized nations may require Skyscape’s developer capabilities to create more useful resources. That being said, this initiative is far more broad than an iPhone with a few apps – its goal is to transform communities with the best of the mHealth industry. It will be exciting to see where it goes.