A group of US-based non-profits and mHealth companies, led by Health eVillages, have joined the Real Medicine Foundation to provide relief to survivors in Nepal.
Millions live in healthcare deserts
There’s a sting of privileged irony as I write this blog on healthcare deserts from Cleveland, Ohio. I live a little over 1 mile from the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic (with its roughly 2,500 physicians), which is across the street from University Hospitals Case Medical Center (with an additional 1,500 doctors). Across town, there are an additional 382 physicians at Metro Health Medical Center.
In other parts of the world—even within the United States—however, people who might need medical attention aren’t so lucky. Globally, millions of people live in healthcare deserts, where they don’t have easy access (or, in some cases, any access) to quality healthcare from well-trained caregivers.
In 2012, people living in Europe and the Americas were 2.5 times more likely to have access to medical care, and nearly 6 times more likely to have access to dental, than those living in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific.
The shortage of qualified caregivers is particularly problematic when tragedy strikes in a healthcare desert, whether it comes in the form of a natural disaster or an epidemic. When the April 25 earthquake struck in Nepal, for example, hospitals were filled to capacity and medical supplies were scant.
Collaboration key in response to public health disasters
A group of US-based non-profits and mHealth companies have joined the Real Medicine Foundation to provide relief to survivors in Nepal. The Health eVillages Collaborative Coalition includes the following organizations: Health eVillages, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Physicians Interactive, MedHelp, WelVU, Univadis, and The Tramuto Foundation.
Health eVillages is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the collaborative IQ of healthcare providers around the world (and especially in underserved areas) by providing life-saving information and training via mobile devices.
The Coalition, formed during the Ebola outbreak in October 2014, is largely a result of the dedication of global healthcare activist Donald Tramuto, Chairman and CEO of Physicians Interactive and founder of Health eVilliages.
Tramuto has a big name in mHealth. His commitment to ensuring that the underserved around the world have access to quality medical care was recently recognized by PM360 Magazine, which named him one of the most influential people in healthcare.
The Coalition’s presence in Nepal was a natural fit for Tramuto, who said:
The Collaborative Coalition was created to address exactly these types of challenging situations, whether through technological support, financial resources, or by providing badly needed medical and shelter supplies. We are proud to be working with the Real Medicine Foundation to help provide the basic essentials following the earthquake to the people of Nepal.
mHealth: An oasis in healthcare deserts
It is extremely frustrating that there isn’t a more aggressive, proactive and collaborative approach to distributing critical information digitally to health care providers in today’s mobile world,
By distributing Health eVillage’s mHealth devices to healthcare professionals, Physicians Interactive provides specialized medical reference content. The devices are pre-loaded and need no Internet connection. They serve as decision-making aids, providing up-to-date material that can be used to advise the treatment of patients in the world’s most remote locations.
How Health eVillages delivers mHealth
Currently, approximately 180 Health eVillages mHealth devices are deployed in underserved areas around the world, including coastal Louisiana, Haiti, Kenya, and Uganda.
Of physicians consulting the reference devices, 38 percent use them for prescribing medications, 56 percent for patient education, 69 percent for researching treatment methods, and 50 percent for help in diagnosing medical conditions.
Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights says,
Essentially, it’s a medical library in a portable package. You can take this to places that don’t have access to a full medical library. It can be transformative. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Since its founding about nine months ago, the Collaborative Coalition has delivered communications about Ebola to 3.3 million healthcare providers in 36 countries. According to Mark Friess, CEO of WelVU and a Health eVillages Advisory Board Member,
This Coalition's ability to quickly respond to human suffering, whether it is an epidemic such as Ebola or the earthquake in Nepal, is a great way for organizations to mobilize to help fight any public health crisis.
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.