Smart phones are powerful in not merely connecting people around the world; they are also perceived as a boon to improve patient care in the ever transforming health industry. Various technologies are being developed by organizations to capitalize on the power of smart phones for creating a massive change in health systems.
One of the biggest examples in boosting patient care via smart phones is of Mexico which deals with a number of infirmities such as HIV/AIDS and obesity. To tackle this, a system called VidaNET (LifeNET) for HIV drug compliance is run in partnership by a cellular communications company and a health institute (Carso). Patients have to input their details of antiretroviral therapy, the times of their medication, height, weight, date of diagnosis of HIV-positive, scheduled doctor’s visit and results of lab tests. Subsequently, the system creates SMS alerts that remind people of the timings for medicines, keeping up with doctors’ appointments, and getting the lab tests done at regular intervals, all of which can be accessed effortlessly on the smart phone. CardioNET, an educational tool on smart phones has been devised to educate users on obesity and its serious implications. After entering a few basics (height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol level, diabetes and smoking details), the system calculates the risk of a heart attack (in about 10years) and regularly updates the user on the importance of exercise, nutritious food and healthy lifestyle.
Medic Mobile, a reminder system launched by Josh Nesbit and Isaac Holeman, is used by community health workers in 21 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America who can reach out to each other in case of emergencies. It is used to register pregnancies, surveillance of epidemics, antenatal care and maintain a reserve of essential medicines. For tracking childhood immunization, once the child’s birth date is entered, periodic SMS alerts are sent to the parents reminding them of the next vaccine date, the diseases protected against, along with information on the importance and need of complete immunization.
University of Colorado Hospital, US, uses ‘Cisco Nurse Connect Solution’ (installed on Cisco Wireless Systems in 2009) to address the patient needs and enhance patient care. The patients’ request is first sent to the main nursing station and then forwarded to the nurses carrying Cisco wireless phones. It gives nurses the ability to not only save time and fatigue but also respond to the patients’ requests faster. In urgencies, a floor wide alert confirms the availability of the nearest nurse for help thereby ensuring patient safety. “Our patient response time has dramatically improved with the Cisco phones,” says Shelly Limon, nurse manager of UCH’s Patient Services Administration. “We can provide more efficient patient care more rapidly.” (cisco.com).
It is due to smart phones that patients are able to schedule doctors’ appointments, control customized medication reminders and have access to knowledge with world medical proficiency being just a message away.