mHealth Revolutionizing Public Health: An Economic Study
5th Communication Policy Research South Conference (CPRsouth5), Xi'an, China
15 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 8, 2010
The existing disease surveillance and notification system in India and Sri Lanka were introduced a century back but revised, over time, with the emergence of epidemics such as yellow fever, SARS, H1NI. The two countries' emphasis is on monitoring around 25 reportable infectious diseases. This legal requirement is a slow and labor intensive process that takes several weeks before epidemiologist receive aggregates of these handful of diseases for any kind of analysis (Prashant and Waidyanatha, 2010). The limitations have lead to human and economic losses: Leptospriosis outbreak in Sri Lanka (Argampodi et al, 2008), Chikungunya in Tamil Nadu (Ganesan et al, 2009). An unusual number of patients presenting with similar symptoms concentrated in a particular geographic areas could have signaled the epidemiologists of an abnormal event and may have effectively mitigated their consequences. In addition, life-style or non-infectious diseases like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and arthritis are affecting the national health budgets. The Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) pilot, stemming from the realization of the system's weaknesses, introduced modern information communication technology to health departments in India and Sri Lanka to overcome the latencies and monitor all diseases, reportable and non reportable ones, to monitor the health status of the country. The processes involved digitizing all patient clinical health records with a mobile phone application, analyzing them in near real-time with an event detection software, and disseminating those adverse events, once again with mobile phones, to health workers for prompt response. Relative to the existing system, the RTBP can reduce expenses, introduce benefits, and improve the efficiencies in disease surveillance and mitigation. This paper discusses those economic benefits and the policy reforms required before the RTBP can take full effect.
Keywords: Applications, Innovation, Public Goods, Productivity, Policy
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