Mobile Health Around the Globe: SMART Health India Uses mHealth to Fight Chronic Disease
SMART Health India is a project developed by The George Institute for Global Health in Oxford, UK. In India’s rural sector, most premature deaths are due to chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Since these chronic conditions strike at a young age and are usually not treated at all, young working adults are disabled, resulting in catastrophic emergency treatment and loss of work resulting in overwhelming poverty.
SMART Health is a low-cost high-quality healthcare delivery system that uses smartphone-based technologies, providing the healthcare worker with personalized clinical decision support to guide the Systematic Medical Appraisal Referral and Treatment (SMART) of individual patients.
SMART Health uses the village Accredited Social Health Activist or ASHA together with local doctors to identify at risk individuals. The ASHA is a trusted figure within the community and visits homes in the community to help with local public health, usually pre and post-natal care.
The ASHAs use smartphones with custom software. They can enter information about each individual patient and receive recommendations for personalized treatment. The data is stored and is accessible to local doctors and hospitals. Patients can also access their personal information using thier own phone. They can also receive reminders to take medication or messages to help them stop smoking, for instance.
The software in the smartphones was developed by the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) of The University of Oxford. The software algorithms “can be loaded onto smartphones to enable the real-time analysis of personal medical information and the provision of clinical decision-making support. The IBME has also developed a range of low-cost smart biosensors designed to measure key biological parameters, such as blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate.” (from the George Institute website)
Originally, SMART Health was developed for the management of cardiovascular disease, but now they are planning to branch out to include other chronic diseases such as diabetes and other illnesses such as kidney disease, respiratory disease, tuberculosis and malaria.
Their goal? From The George Institute website:
“Our ultimate goal is to determine whether this approach will deliver meaningful reductions
in death, disability and ‘catastrophic’ healthcare expenditure (i.e. healthcare costs that
endanger the financial security of patients and their families) across a range of geographies
and cultures. We believe that such evidence will provide a strong case for scale-up to
all disadvantaged communities in the region and many other parts of the world, with
implications for the health and wellbeing of billions of people.”
image: George Institute
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