Controlling Non-Communicable Diseases With Our Phones

Harnessing the Power of Mobile Technology to Improve Health

07.02.13 | By

In the future, we just might be able to control non-communicable diseases with our phones. That's what a new report released yesterday suggests, as the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) showcased the potential for using mobile phones for health (mHealth) to improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and management. The report, Health at your fingertips, looks at 37 different mHealth initiatives undertaken by the biopharmaceutical industry, with a particular focus on use cases, challenges and lessons learned. It was released at the 2013 High-level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), taking place in Geneva this week.

The programs have a variety of goals, including improving early infant diagnosis of HIV and increasing patient adherence to HIV treatment regimens. Other initiatives seek to improve tuberculosis and malaria treatments by reducing out-stocks of essential medicines.

The programs use the technology in a variety of ways. Some programs provide training to healthcare professionals and caregivers. Others aim to increase patient awareness of common disease risk factors – like tobacco use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet – and induce behavior change. One initiative used a weekly SMS text message to measure the stock of medicines at health facilities. The reports generated are able to help staff at different levels of the supply chain to take appropriate actions to resolve any issues before patient care is impacted.

Be sure to read the whole report here. If you’re pressed for time, here’s a helpful info graphic summarizer. Which uses of mHealth do you think show the most promise?

 

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