Imagine a smartphone add-on that provides a screening test for oral cancer. Or an attachment that monitors an infant’s development during pregnancy. Or even a smart Band-Aid™ that can track a patient’s vital signs and upload information as needed.
These are just a few of the innovations that extend the capabilities of a smartphone in the field of mHealth (mobile Health) as it relates to ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development).
According to ICTWorks.org, five tools in development now would extend beyond the smartphone:
- A cancer-screening tool that mounts to a smartphone camera to examine oral lesions
- An attachment that performs testing for HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes
- A smartphone-based ultrasound device that monitors the development of infants during pregnancy (especially useful in rural areas)
- A flexible, smart Band-Aid™ that is being called a game-changer
- A data-collection necklace that provides notification about needed vaccines for infants
As extraordinary as these advancements are in terms of diagnostic testing, they generate questions as well. For example, wearable technology and Internet connectivity can outrun reliable electricity in the developing world. Without security protocols in place, data integrity can become a concern.
For the church, the rollout of mHealth initiatives represents an opportunity to offer greater health care in areas of greatest need. Through more than 300 hospitals and clinics, The United Methodist Church stands at the forefront of the effort to provide clean water; health care for women and children; and health and testing for HIV, AIDS and malaria.