U.S. lags behind in mobile health adoption

Regular readers of FierceMobileHealthcare should be familiar with the idea that basic applications like text messaging or even voice communications can be awfully effective in low-income parts of the world.

In a commentary co-posted at FastCompany.com and the Huffington Post, Dr. Leslie A. Saxon, director of the University of Southern California's Center for Body Computing, takes this notion and runs with it.

"The United States medical community, Silicon Valley and telecom companies have the moral responsibility to help create wireless health applications for the developing world. This is not only an ethical no-brainer, it is also an economically smart move--a healthier world will save costs at home too. The United States healthcare system not only absorbs millions of the world's sick, the U.S. spends billions each year to put band-aids on health issues abroad," Saxon writes.

Saxon notes that Interpol and authorities in Zanzibar, Tanzania, last month seized hundreds of boxes of counterfeit drugs. "Using fake drugs has tragic consequences--there is decreased immunity and people lose faith in life-saving medicine," Saxon says. "Technologists came up with a solution: individuals can verify the authenticity of medicine by sending a text message with an ID number printed on the box of legitimate medicine, then the drug company text back verifying that the medicine is OK to use."

Again, behold the power of the text message.

Technology is, of course, far more advanced in America, but that doesn't mean we're applying it in the right manner. "Apple's iPad commercial [showing a medical imaging app] notwithstanding, the United States can be laughably slow at widely adopting mobile computing solutions. While the United States takes pride in leading the information economy through its innovations, applying and using these technology innovations at scale is another issue," Saxon says.

The current, longstanding practice of patients attempting to explain an ailment to a doctor who doesn't have a lot of information to work with isn't all that different from how Hippocrates would have practiced medicine, according to Saxon.

"We can all be much more efficient and we can use technology, much of it already in our hands, to make the system better and less expensive," she writes. "We have a responsibility to not only use our technologic might to help the weakest in our country, and others, but we need our healthcare policies to reflect the era of the Information Age, not Ancient Greece."

For more:
- check out Saxon's commentary at the Huffington Post