Global Trends in Mobile Health

Category: Software Translation, Technology

The rising field of mobile health, or mHealth, is driving changes in healthcare delivery around the world. Due to the exponential growth of cell phone use in places like Africa and India, the potential of mHealth to improve care and education in the developing world is one of the most exciting trends in public health. A number of developers and organizations in many countries are using mobile health to help save the world, one patient at a time. Here are a few:

The technology project Cell-Life, an mHealth pioneer in South Africa, works to improve HIV and tuberculosis care and education. The not-for-profit organization’s mobile software and services have proven so effective that it’s created a commercial subsidiary, mHealth Solutions, to support its work. Products like Communicate and Capture do everything from sending patients SMS messages to collecting data in the field.

Dimagi, a socially conscious software company based in Massachusetts, makes CommCare, a free open source software application with mobile and cloud infrastructure. Able to run on low-cost J2ME phones and Android devices, CommCare is used in countries like India to improve case management for maternal and infant health.

Created by a lab at Stanford University, OScan is a mobile platform for oral-cancer screening in remote areas. The low-cost device mounts on a conventional camera phone and instantly transmits data to dentists and oral surgeons, allowing minimally trained healthcare workers to connect early-stage oral cancer patients with expert care.

While the primary languages for many mobile health applications today is English, effective software localization processes and a knowledgeable translation team can help ensure that caregivers and patients alike have access to healthcare in their own language. Developing mobile health solutions comes with challenges, however. Scalability and the lack of a standardized international healthcare system pose problems for developers. Meanwhile, users everywhere are overwhelmed by the volume of available health data and have trouble sifting through it all to find accurate, reliable information. Developers must factor in all these issues when they set out to make the world a healthier place.

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