Mobile computing tools such as smartphones, tablet computers and mobile computing applications are playing an ever-increasing role in monitoring public health.
In a December 2013 press release from Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control, “CDC looks back at 2013 health challenges, ahead to 2014 health worries”, the CDC noted that it prevented some public health outbreaks, stopped some diseases before they crossed borders and saved lives through preventable chronic diseases and injuries. But at the same time, the CDC observed that the world still faces significant health challenges and that only one in five countries can quickly detect, respond and prevent global health threats caused by emerging infections.
These global public health threats include the appearance of new microbes, the increase of drug-resistant pathogens, world travel, and food supplies that pass across international borders. Other public health threats include scientific developments in hazardous pathogens, the risk of these pathogens’ accidental or intentional release into public environments, and biological agents used by terrorist organizations. The CDC intends to invest in technology as one of its tools toward improving global health security.
Now that mobile computing has its place in today’s medicine, it seems possible that the use of technological tools such as smartphones, tablet computers and mobile computing applications will play an ever-increasing role in monitoring public health. In Botswana, for example, healthcare officials introduced a 2011 pilot program to allow healthcare workers with smartphones to collect malaria information and send it to cloud servers for retrieval. Similarly, Zanzibar uses tablet computers and smartphones as a part of its Malaria Early Epidemic Detection System (MEEDS).
For highly contagious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis, a mobile computing system such as COMMANDmobile® offers several important advantages now and in the future for public health:
1) Improved epidemic management – COMMANDmobile enables physicians, hospital administrators and governments to exchange public health information more quickly, so that large-scale epidemics on national and international levels can be rapidly detected and controlled.
2) Location-based public health data – By geotagging data relating to patient infections, healthcare agencies can identify the location of potential infection sources, pinpoint the highest areas of infection, and allocate funds or medical supplies to affected areas.
3) Easier adaptation by poorer nations – Countries with fewer financial resources can more easily invest in smartphones and tablet computers than more expensive healthcare tracking systems.
4) Reduction in paper survey errors – By using a mobile computing system such as COMMANDmobile for data collection and workforce management, the need to use paper forms decreases. The risk of accidental data entry errors is also reduced, which could be critical for patients’ treatment and recovery.
5) Rapid data transmission – COMMANDmobile permits medical data to be securely sent and easily reviewed. Some diseases require rapid treatment for patient recovery, and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers allow field workers to quickly send medical data from one location to another.
For more information about COMMANDmobile and its capabilities in public health, request a demo account or view our production information video.
Related links: monitoring public health via mobile computing