Comments
Mobile Health Apps Have Role In Ebola Crisis
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Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 2:21:15 PM
Paper Processes
I wholeheartedly agree that we should use some of the affordable technologies available today to do a better job tracking and treating diseases like ebola. At the beginning of the ebola crisis, Dr. David Agus of CBS Morning shared his immunization record -- a long, long yellow sheet of paper that detailed all his innoculations for a recent trip to Africa. It reminded me of the record I have, tucked away, of the shots I got as a kid, before we moved to Venezuela. Each weekend (or so it seemed), we headed to Manchester for injections against malaria, yellow fever, and who knows what else. Decades later, the US continues to use the same approach the UK used back then (and may well still use today...). We've come so far in many other areas of government and health; surely we can digitize this important facet of protecting populations? 

That snippet from CBS is here: www.cbsnews.com/videos/ebola-outbreak-whats-happening-on-the-ground-in-west-africa/
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 2:59:19 PM
Putting the Cart Before the Horse
This region doesn't need high tech solutions. What good will any of this sort of stuff do in a situation in which the people believe that disease is a punishment from God? What they need is running water, toilets and electricity. Start with the basics!
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 5:05:24 PM
Re: Putting the Cart Before the Horse
There's certainly more than one problem to solve, but I do know that some of the government and nonprofit agencies responding to the public health crisis are frustrated by a lack of good data from the field, and anything that would help with data gathering would be helpful.
vcole829
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vcole829,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2014 | 1:56:58 PM
And, they are filling that role!
When I saw this headline, I was expecting to find a write up about how mobile health apps are being used to help deal with the Ebola outbreak.  What I found was an article on how they ought to be used for that -- meaning that the author did not realize that his hopes were being fulfilled even as he was writing about them. 

Within days of the discovery of an ebola-infected individual here in Nigeria, work began on an Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos to co-ordinate all data and planning to deal with the crisis. My employer, eHealth Africa, was contracted to set up that facility. [We have constructed seven such centres for polio.] Pictures of the construction were posted on our Facebook page.

Before all of the paint in the new EOC was dry, there was one of the postulated "Geo-referenced, real-time maps of infected patients" -- and people who may have been exposed by those patients -- projected on the wall.  Data for that map (and its accociated planning reports) is coming in via Internet from smart phones, and via SMS where more elegant solutions are not available. The information is being retrieved by scientists and doctors world wide. (Due to the confidential nature of the data, access is restricted.) I don't speak for eHealth Africa, I just work here, but I am rather proud that what we are doing is new enough that IW writes about it in future tense.

[eHealth Africa is a non-profit Non-Governmental Organization based in Kano, Nigeria.]

 
NovarumDX
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NovarumDX,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2014 | 3:17:17 PM
Re: And, they are filling that role!
vcole829,

You are right to be proud.  The work you are doing sounds like exactly the sort of opportunity I was referring to, but its far from universal across the region.  As the opening paragraph says - there is the opportunity for a bigger role, and with an international problem it needs a cross-border approach.  The next stage beyond your sort of offering though is directly linking the diagnostic tests to databases such as yours to automate that link - the underlying technology exists to do this, and indeed is already being used in Africa for other applications.

If you think there's an opportunity where we can help you raise the profile of your project, add functionality or extend its reach then get in touch - or pass on my details to the right people in your organisation.  We are keen to help.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
8/26/2014 | 3:22:40 PM
Day to day behavior change

While I welcome any help in fighting this health crisis I don't know that mobile technology can have the greatest impact yet. So many of the individuals that have gotten Ebola need education about the disease in their language from their trusted advisors to stop the disease. There is still vast misunderstandings about the disease and its transmission process. Stopping the consumption of bush meat and addressing the handling of bodies will probably go further to stem the new cases at this point.

tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 5:24:53 PM
Much use?
I think Mobile technology would not be as much help in spreading awareness about epidemics as other measures of public health. As the target population of epidemics are usually  the people who do not have access to good health measures let alone fancy mobile apps. At least in the developing nations.
NovarumDX
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NovarumDX,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2014 | 5:33:03 PM
Re: Much use?
Actually mobile penetration in Africa is actually better than many people realise - much of Africa has missed out landlines and gone directly to mobile.  mHealth solutions are already being used in Africa to track and record treatments and medications; and any centralised reporting would not be in the hands of patients but rather Healthcare Workers.  In order that aid agencies know where and what resource to deploy they need information back from the field - this relies on rapid communications and tracking tools.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 10:48:38 AM
Re: Much use?
@NovarumDX: I agree that mobile health systems can play an important role but what I meant was the fact that you need to have a solid mobile penetration first before you can achieve the desired results. People, especially the poor ones need to be given access to smartphones at affordable costs as well as cheap internet access so they can make use of it.


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