The broadening role of mobile commerce and technology in the healthcare industry



With the massive penetration of smartphones, mhealth is becoming an important technology.

Though mobile commerce is adding a touch of convenience to the healthcare industry in the Western world, mhealth is absolutely revolutionizing the way that care can be provided in developing nations, such as those in Africa.

This technology has propelled the ability to access treatment information forward in a significant way.

Though it would have been impossible for a woman who was having a difficult labor in a Ugandan village, for example, to have many treatment options available to her if she wasn’t lucky enough to have a health clinic available nearby. However, today the use of a simple smartphone can provide someone local with access to advice from a doctor at a hospital so that the woman can receive better care, or it can be used to alert a health worker in the community about her circumstance. It could even make sure that she is taken to a hospital.

Mhealth is broadening the reach of health care to people who would not otherwise have access to it.

This is making a very meaningful difference in the developing world, among individuals who live in rural villages and who would not otherwise be able to reach nurses, doctors, or other forms of healthcare providers who are typically only available in the large cities.

According to a Johns Hopkins University professor of international health and epidemiology, Dr. Alain Labrique, “Now, a phone call can compress the time that it would have taken before to come to that decision point and get the woman care more often and quickly.” Currently, there are over 120 students and 60 faculty members who are participants in the Johns Hopkins Global mHealth Initiative, which to date has 51 different projects underway to investigate the use of smartphones and other similar forms of technology in the health sector.

The efforts of this initiative have been so positively received that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will be starting two new courses in March 2013, which focus on the way that mobile commerce and its related technologies can be applied into health fieldwork around the world.


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