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When your phone is your doctor

business Updated: Jan 09, 2011 22:53 IST
Himani Chandna

Your mobile phone can help treat you medically. Even as the global mobile health technology market is looking at growing at 25% annually from the current $1.5 billion (Rs 6,750 crore) to $4.6 billion (Rs 20,700 crore) by 2014, Indian predictions on m-health prospects are also pretty robust.

Industry experts say mobile broadband can transform the $35 billion (Rs 1.57 lakh crore) healthcare sector through real time access to patient management systems such as electronic medical records, insurance and claims data, scheduling, billing, drug information and other related information.

“We have devised technologies to support smart care and created mobile technologies to share reports and histories of past ailments. Mobility in healthcare will introduce preventive care in India,” said Rajiv Sodhi, corporate delivery head, healthcare, HCL.

Hemant Joshi, partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, India, said, “m-health could provide high quality services at low prices even in remote areas, where only three per cent of the specialist physicians live. Seventy per cent of the population resides in villages while 80% of the medical community lives in cities.”

The Apollo Group plans to roll out m-health services in Chennai and Kolkata this month. Junior doctors in tele-centres will provide real time services for psychiatry, family practice, internal medicine, rehabilitation, cardiology, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology, neurology, speech-language pathology and pharmacy, through mobile phones.

“They all are algorithm-assisted doctors who can, at least, give the first level of care. We are also running a pilot project to handle emergency pregnancies through video streaming,” said Sangita Reddy, ED, operations, Apollo Group.

Voxiva, a leader in interactive mobile health information services, may bring to India the ‘Text4baby initiative’ that was recently launched in the US, which educates expecting women through the phone. Delhi-based ZMQ Software Systems is rolling out its ‘Freedom TB initiative’ for spreading awareness about the disease through mobiles.

Mobile phone companies are also keen on healthcare solutions. Ericsson Mobile Health provides a combination of medical sensors, a communications device and accessories for vital body measurements such as ECG, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, etc.

Nokia recently ran a pilot project in Karnataka with Manipal University for Nokia HealthRadar, a mobile-based system that tracks the spread of diseases.

With more than 600 million mobile users, healthcare is gaining attention in mobile applications. Research2guidance, a Berlin-based research company, reports that 500 million people will globally use health apps on their smartphones by 2015.