Mobile-Health Technology, otherwise known as mHealth, has thankfully taken off in recent years as health-care costs skyrocket leaving many in the developed and developing world hoping and praying their lack of coverage won’t come back to bite them or worse. NGOs in the developing world know all too well the challenges rural populations face accessing adequate health-care. Preventative care is critical, and thanks to a Microsoft grant computer engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have come up with a mobile smart-phone able to provide ultrasound probes of the kidney, liver, bladder, eyes, prostate, uterus, etc. all in the field without the need for cumbersome machinery and multiple personnel to facilitate.
Smart-phones with this USB-based ultrasound probe technology is a great fit for the developing world due to the scarcity of trained medical professionals, but with an abundance of cell phone towers. I see this operating similarly to Medicall Home, a Mexican mHealth organization. Mexico’s rural countryside is home to millions of uninsured citizens. Medicall Home provides unlimited consultations by phone with doctors for a flat monthly fee of about $5. What makes me most happy is funding for Medicall initially came from Carlos Slim, the telecoms magnate and one of the richest men in the world. Nice to see home-grown philanthropy taking place in Mexico.
The USB-probe smart-phones are set to sell in the $1,500 range, but the goal is to get them as low as $500. Certainly a manageable price-tag considering the reach and potential impact this technology could have on the hundreds of millions lacking health-care around the world.