At the risk of sounding like a tease for your late local news, I'm going to pose this question (and type in caps): "Could your cell phone KILL YOU?"
For all the wonderful things I've seen in mobile healthcare in recent months, I keep coming across stories of gloom and doom. "Cellphones and brain tumors: Report revives nagging questions," screamed a Los Angeles Times headline on Sept. 8. Last week, VOANews quelled some of the fear with this story: "Mixed Verdict on Mobile Phones as Cancer Cause." Or, as PC Magazine put it on Sept. 14, apparently with tongue in cheek, "Is Your Cell Phone Melting Your Brain? Not Yet."
Haven't we been going back and forth on this for years? Well, luckily, we here at FierceMobileHealthcare focus on more mundane stories, like cutting-edge technology that actually could save lives. And not the kind of wild speculation that we get from the Connecticut Post in the wake of the gruesome murder of Yale University student Annie Le. "We can torture ourselves with all of the what ifs that might have altered the outcome of what took place between Le and her attacker. What if she had her cell phone with her? Were there any hidden silent alarms--like the kind bank tellers have--that Le might have triggered, or a wireless personal alarm device, such as an advance on those medical alert ('Help, I've fallen and I can't get up')," a Sept. 17 column wondered.
Well, sure, lots of lives could be saved if every potential victim had his or her phone at the ready, with 9-1-1 already entered, just waiting for the user to push "send." Sadly, nothing is ever that simple when it comes to real-life situations. But one thing is certain: While people are out there arguing about whether cell phones are deadly, dedicated healthcare professionals are working hard every day to find new ways to harness mobile technology to improve--and save--people's lives. Our story two weeks ago about how BlackBerrys helped a home-health agency cut a two-hour process of assigning workers to patients down to 15 minutes comes to mind. So does our piece on "smart" pill boxes, an invention, ironically, from the "I've fallen ..." creator. - Neil