Communications & Biomedicine Update: Cellphones Impacting Healthcare
Last Friday I wrote about a new smartphone application that could figure out your eye prescription. But the impact of the mobile telecommunications revolution is even more significant than just apps on smartphones. In the last ten years the growth of cellular networks in areas poorly served by landlines has altered human communications on this planet forever. In Africa the change is astonishing. Home to one billion on this planet, today, 630 million cellphones can be found in Africa.
A good example of how ubiquitous the technology has become can be seen in states like Nigeria where in 2000 there were 30,000 cellular subscribers. But today there are 140 million, an 87% market penetration. This growth can be seen elsewhere on the continent and it is leading to breakthroughs for emergency services and the medical community.
How can that be? Here are just a few examples.
Last year researchers published a 2008 to 2009 study of 15 million Kenyans tracking their travel habits by cellphone signal. The location data could be gleaned from the 11,920 cell towers in the country. The movement of cellular phone customers was then correlated to incidence of malaria outbreaks. What the study showed was how malaria spread (see map below) from west to east across the country, from Lake Victoria to Nairobi.
This is the type of information that makes it possible to pinpoint source of disease outbreaks and target interventions early to stop its spread. With malaria, for example, although mosquitoes are the source of the parasite, it is infected asymptomatic people that facilitate its spread because they get repeatedly bitten by other mosquitoes who then pick up the infectious agent and go on to bite uninfected people.
Peru and South African Studies
Another study in Peru used ordinary cellphones (not the smart kind) to do field research studying the results of a randomized drug trial. In South Africa recently a number of community health workers used a combination of a web-based application and short messaging services (SMS) on $40 Nokia 2626 mobile phones to gather survey information from 39,665 households related to family wellness.
Cellphones in Africa are also being used to monitor livestock health, to facilitate patient transport expeditiously from remote areas to urban hospitals, and to provide in field support for remote health workers. For overall global health there is no doubt that this type of data collection gleaned from cellphone networks will lead to better data modeling of disease outbreaks famines and natural disasters and should lead to faster responses from the emergency and medical facilities within Developing World countries.
- About WFS
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
- History of WFS
- Board and Council
- Press Room
- Futurist Gear
- Are You the Next CEO of the World Future Society?
- Book a WFS / Futurist Magazine Speaker
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
December 5, 2013 - At this blog site we have looked at artificially-induced vortices as a novel approach to generating energy, but this one seems less like science fiction, a technology that captures wind from any direction and funnels and compresses it to drive a generator.
December 5, 2013 - You have to admire Jeff Bezos for what my culture calls chutzpa. He has been in the headlines twice in the last week. First with a proposal to start shipping goods from Amazon to customers using drones. And second, successfully firing his new Blue Origin rocket engine at the Van Horn, Texas test facility. The latter simulated a suborbital mission.
Every time I delete spam from my inbox, I feel a tiny piece of my life flitter away. Sitting needlessly at stoplights, or watching the minutes tick away as I wait in some line, or being forced to fill out yet another form, our precious time is being coopted by everyone from inconsiderate businesses, to overbearing government, to painful security checks at the airport. This is what I call “time pollution.”
December 4, 2013 - The El Nino and La Nina or Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are expected to become more exaggerated as temperatures rise here on Earth.
December 4, 2013 - SpaceX, the private company founded by Elon Musk, has achieved a number of milestones in the last few weeks. These include:
- completion of the first series of Grasshopper test flights in which this vertical takeoff and landing launcher went through its paces achieving an altitude of 744 meters (2,440 feet) before returning to its launch pad.
December 4, 2013 - Truly a stocking stuffer the Sensoria socks contain sensors that along with a small ankle-wearing electronic bracelet that communicates with your smartphone will help you as as a jogger or power walker track speed, distance, altitude and ca
November 3, 2013 - Brigham Young University (BYU) and NASA have combined with an origami expert to come up with a new way of folding larger solar arrays into rocket payloads to deliver more power to the International Space Station (ISS) and other sp
As we migrate into a digital world we want and expect better lives. New digital boundaries could let us step through the looking glass, control our screens and construct the digital lives we want — in a digital world that eliminates some of our limits.