Technology Is Everywhere – Now Healthcare Can Be Too

Diya Jain ‘23

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Society today has become so heavily dependent on technology that we cease to even recognize its presence anymore. Not only has it allowed for daily tasks to be completed with ease, it is also a foundational tenet around which industries build businesses—there is no shortage of demand for the latest gadgets. Before we turn all of our attention to the camera quality of the newest iPhone or the release of the Airpods Pro, however, it’s important to recognize how technology can meet more than just entertainment desires—it can also be utilized to meet needs, specifically in healthcare, and could drastically improve patient care.

 

Technologies commonly reserved for the well-off are now being repurposed from products meant to provide entertainment and attract consumers to devices with the ability to provide life-saving aid to those unable to afford or obtain it. In poor regions of Africa, the process of transporting blood to remote areas with no medical infrastructure has long proved an obstacle for medical organizations. Often, roads in these areas are too underdeveloped for vehicles to enter, stopping necessary equipment from being transported.

 

This medical aid system was transformed with the development and public release of drones. Zipliner, a start-up founded in 2016 and based in California, began using drones in Rwanda to send vaccines and blood to isolated villages, having since expanded to various other regions. Organizations in South Africa are currently conducting tests of a drone service that could carry blood across the continent. Implementation of such a plan could allow the cost, time and inefficiency associated with conventional blood transportation to drop significantly. 

 

Drones are just one of the devices getting repurposed for medical purposes. Mobile phones are becoming digital doctoring devices. Just twelve years ago in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, a major cholera outbreak led to widespread and almost uncontainable infection. Poor medical services coupled with the overwhelming number of admissions to local hospitals and clinics already filled to capacity resulted in loss of life. This tragedy sparked the creation of Medic Mobile, which allows for the communication of essential medical information and treatment tips across long distances to anyone with access to a mobile phone. Providing people with a live support system and a vast collection of knowledge from real doctors right at their fingertips will not only help resolve the issue of overcrowding at treatment centers, but also provide a method by which those in remote areas without means of transportation could gain access to potentially life-saving knowledge.