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Health eVillages brings the doctor’s office to medically scarce areas through mobile devicesPosted by: admin on Thu, 2012-04-12 09:29
By: Paromita Pain
Winnie Akoth’s six month-old son was suffering from encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that is a common ailment in their native Kenya. Too poor to afford the best medical care, Akoth was referred to the Kijabe Hospital, a Health eVillages pilot location where Akoth's son received an affordable treatment that saved his life.
Stories like this are not unfamiliar to the Health eVillages staff. Inspired by the Haiti earthquake disaster in 2010, the idea of Health eVillages came about when Donato Tramuto, Health eVillages’ co-founder and CEO of Physicians Interactive, and Kerry Kennedy, founder of the Washington D.C. based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, were discussing ideas about what they could do to help the victims.
“That’s when we touched upon the idea of addressing gaps in health care by powering mobile devices with medical information to those regions where medial information was lost or inaccessible,” said Tramuto. “Our research showed that in many parts of the world, either through natural disaster or political situations, access to medical information had been lost."
For example, he mentioned the situation in Haiti, where medical records were damaged or destroyed by the January 2012 earthquake. In Afghanistan, "the Taliban had destroyed medical literature so that students wouldn’t have access to the latest health advancements. We had in our repository many medical books and literature that we could upload in a platform and put in the form of software for those who need it the most,” said Tramuto.
Launched in Sep 26, 2011 as a partnership between Physician’s Interactive Holdings, its subsidiary Skyscape.com, Inc. and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Health eVillages seeks to provide healthcare professionals working in challenging clinical environments with medical decision making, clinical diagnosis and training tools in easy-to-use mobile devices.
New and refurbished mobile phones and handheld devices (like iPads) are preloaded with clinical decision support reference tools like patient records, drug guides, textbooks and related medical data. These devices, which do not require web access, are given to clinical and healthcare workers to ensure that they always have medical information available. Besides medical alerts, the devices support access to references from over 50 medical publisher resources powered by Skyscape.com, Inc.
Nurses and clinicians in Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and the Greater Gulf Coast area of the Southern United States have received these devices. “Health eVillages 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. [In] most of the areas where these mobile devices have been given, people don’t have access to basic electricity let alone the most advanced medical treatment,” said Tramuto.
He added: “These devices enable them to identify the right dose, identify a condition or seek the latest research in a particular area. For each country we customize the software. In Haiti we have programs specific to nurses diagnosing a disease or condition particular to Haiti. The drug and dosage information is monitored accordingly. Patient details can be entered in as well. Now there is no need to run around looking for information either about a patient or a condition.”
Using donated and refurbished phones, the project works very closely with medical officers and leaders of target communities to ensure that information is completely customized and specific to their area.
Rosadarline Bossuet, RN, from the National School of Nursing in Cayes, Haiti said, “The information on the devices is up-to-date and, now, even closer to us. We can avoid errors in giving medicine, which also ensures the safety of the patient.”
Health eVillages identifies clinics through partners and associates of the Robert F. Kennedy Center and Physician’s Interactive Holdings. Staff members from the project are sent to locations with specific programs most often requested by the medical personnel in the area.
They have seven pilot projects running and early data points shows that medical personnel rate their data finding methods very helpful. “We hope to raise more funds after the competition of our pilot projects,” said Tramuto. Health eVillages clearly has big plans for the future of mobile health technology.