Saturday, May 22, 2010

512 kbps of Mobile Healthcare

The other day I was sitting with my Mentors and I realised that Doctors in India can do wonders if we provide them with 512 kbps bandwidth on mobiles. Apollo Telemedicine Network Foundation and Ericsson started a program sometime back in 2007 called "Gramjyoti" in rural India and that was considered to be a big foray of telemedicine in rural healthcare.Thousands of people within the Gramjyoti project area covering 18 villages and 15 towns were able to use broadband applications. Ericsson worked in partnership with Apollo Hospitals, Hand in Hand (a local NGO), Edurite, One97, CNN and Cartoon Network to deliver a range of services including telemedicine, e-education and e-governance.

Point to be noticed is the prolem area. Sometimes the main factor itself is not the sole criterion on which the success of a project depends and that is what we learnt. Those were the days of GSM technology and the conditions of roads in India was bad especially in the rural areas. Consider a van where people are coming to Be treated/Operated.This van was well equipped but a small ditch or bump on the road, and the wireless transmitter used to turn 360 degrees and we could see nothing...Trust me if we can get 512 kbps on mobile, It will be like a boon for us Indian doctors to serve those patients who live in far-flung areas and need medical attention.

"In India, there are 1 million people that die each year purely because they can't get access to basic healthcare," said Dan Warren, director of technology for the GSM Association, the umbrella organisation that hosts the MWC.

For people in Rural areas, prevention still starts with Good roads, Better electrical and water supply, Proper Sanitation and then we can talk about Health and wellness with them.Through video conferencing, doctors based in Chennai, 70 km away, held surgery with patients in village citizen centres and the Gramjyoti broadband van. The patients were supported by paramedics who could administer ECG tests, blood pressure and injections. Overall 200 patients were treated like this during the trial.Ninety percentwere givenmedicines on site, and 35% have been referred to consultants.We used the UETR and GPEH to track for any problems that arise during drive test activity.

Lesson/Tip for a Rural Healthcare Project (If one is planning to start one):If you want to roll out 3G in a cost effective way, you need to attack capex and opex costs. Seventy percent of these are in the towers.Gramjyoti project with the help of network operators showed that site sharing works.The site sharing experiment showed that what we did in 20 villages, we could do in 250,000 villages without any problems.This is roughly the number of GSM cells in India and each one could share a tower with a 3G cell without interference. Operators came, the regulator came and people fromthe government came to see the trial and they left convinced that site sharing works. With site sharing and refurbished 3G handsets,we can bring the same economics to 3G that have made 2G such a success. It’s a myth than 3G HSPA is only for urban environments.

There's a business case for it now; you have to have the experience of the Healthcare Providers + Telecom Providers and on the ground talking to the big corporates out there and creating real business models, and that's the only way to success.

Monday, May 17, 2010

mhealth in developing countries

The potential of mobile telephony to bring health care to the majority
Acute and emerging epidemiological challenges are encouraging public sector to welcome and support the development of increasingly innovative health care initiatives. Given that nearly 70 out of every 100 people carry a mobile phone in the region, if the easy-to-use mobile platform can be applied to health care to contribute to increased equity, mobile care could also contribute to improved clinical outcomes and productivity, as well as to better public health monitoring and education.

Oh yeah! we know about the potentials but then where does mhealth exactly fit in? Is it for Prevention?- Disease management or Real time monitoring?..

Actually Mobile Health is gonna be everything- Mobile health is a recently coined term, largely defined as health practice supported by mobile devices. For purposes of this note, mobile health practice includes public health, clinical medicine, and self-monitoring supported by mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).Currently active mobile health applications include the use of PDAs in collecting community health data; using the mobile phone to deliver health care information to practitioners, patients, and nonpatients; and real-time monitoring for citizens, both patients and nonpatients.Mobile health services tend toward preventive care and support for wellness, essentially helping individuals take care of their health before they become patients.

Ok! So if we talk about India what will support its growth, PPP?

Acute and emerging epidemiological and demographic challenges to health care systems are pressing the public sector to welcome and support the development of increasingly innovative approaches and initiatives. Emerging fields in health care include biotechnology (gene therapy, etc.), nanotechnology (instrumental in drug delivery), and information and communication technologies (mobile health). Together these offer a basket of new tools to address health care issues.

Need of the Hour?
The potential benefit of the mobile phone as a tool in widening access and improving health care is clear. Increasing penetration, combined with a wider range of possibilities for communication and an easy-to-use platform, allows access to less technology-literate groups.
So as the increasing subscriber base is in rural India, there is pressure to bring on best value benefits to the rural Consumer. No wonder Nokia Life tools Agri services forecasting weather to farmers and fishermen is such a hit. The mobile market in rural India has significant potential with number of subscribers anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 32% during 2009 to 2012. When we talk about bad terrains , climate and remotely located areas. More than Mobile commerce, More than Location based services- The prime and the most important are Occupation related VAS (that's why lifetools is a hit) and Healthcare Value add services.
I think that's the way to go ahead...Need and supply....

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