The Role of Technology in Medicines

The world of technology has tremendously changed over the last decade. In today’s world, technology plays a key role in every industry along with our personal lives. Out of all of the industries, healthcare is certainly one of the most important. This unification is accountable for educating and saving innumerable lives all over the world.

Medical Technology is an extensive field where innovation plays a vital role in supporting health. Areas like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and information technology, the development of medical devices and equipment, have made some noteworthy contributions in improving the health situation for many.

“According to EU. by 2017 a projected 3.4 billion people around the world will own a smartphone and half of them will be using m-Health apps”

From “small” innovations like adhesive bandages, ankle braces, wearable sensors and health trackers to more compound technologies like MRI machines, artificial organs, and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology has certainly made an unbelievable impact on medicine.

As a result of the progress of these wonderful innovations, healthcare specialists can find ways to improve their practice – for better finding, surgical procedures, and enhanced patient care. In today’s world it is not unusual for patients to hold video conferences with doctors to save time and money. With growing hospitals and practices using medical technology like mobile devices on the job, physicians can now have any kind of information they need including drug information, research and studies, patient history and more within a matter of seconds.

The Role of Technology in Medicines

From “small” innovations like adhesive bandages, ankle braces, wearable sensors and health trackers to more compound technologies like MRI machines, artificial organs, and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology has certainly made an unbelievable impact on medicine.

The integration of medical equipment technology and telehealth has also formed robotic surgeries, where in some circumstances, physicians do not even need to be in the operating room with the patient when the surgery is performed. Rather, surgeons can operate out of their “home base”, and patients can have the process done in a hospital or clinic to their own hometown, removing the irritations and stress of health-associated travel.

Along with the medical technologies, mobile health is getting maximum popularity not only in medical community but also in Telecom and IT sector.

Mobile Health (mHealth) refers to the practice of medicine and public health sustained by mobile devices and applications. Internationally, the phenomenon of mHealth is already well-developed but it is still in early stages in many under developed and developing countries. According to the European Commission, by 2017 a projected 3.4 billion people around the world will own a smartphone and half of them will be using mHealth apps.

The use of mobile devices by health care professionals (HCPs) has changed many aspects of clinical practice. Mobile devices have become normal in health care settings, leading to rapid evolution in the development of medical software applications for these platforms.

Many apps are available to support HCPs with many imperative responsibilities, such as: information and time management; health record maintenance and access; communications and consulting; reference and information gathering; patient management and monitoring; clinical decision-making; and medical education and training.

“As Pakistan is a developing country with over half of its people living in rural areas, M-Health can greatly address the Health of people.”

Technology is playing an important role in medicine in Pakistan as well. As Pakistan is a developing country with over half of its people living in rural areas, M-Health can address the needs of the people. These areas neither have adequate health care facilities nor a strong set-up. The extension of ICT around the globe has set up an exceptional opening for delivery of healthcare facilities and infrastructure in these rural areas of Pakistan along with other developing countries. In Pakistan $9.3 is spent on each person’s healthcare yearly, contrasted with the World Health Organization recommended $60 per person, where rural patients are incapable to access even basic medical services. So by creating a linkage between rural patients and medical professionals, m-Health can bring healthcare within the reach of millions. According to the Socio-economic Impacts of m-health 2013 report by Telenor, 75,000 mothers and children can be saved yearly with the help of maternal data services delivered through text messages in Pakistan.

“In Pakistan $9.3 is spent on each person’s healthcare yearly, contrasted with the WHO’s recommended $60 per person.”

The advanced regions like Europe, Australia USA etc are attracting full advantages of mobile intrusion into health care as it is an easier way to accomplish health issues.

Also connectivity is no more a dream; we are living in a technologically advanced world where things are easily explored. m-Health can have a strong affect in developing countries like Pakistan as it permits far-off locations to get access to medical care and get local awareness about health associated issues. Developed countries are spending capital towards the incorporation of ICT with health care systems. Though there are financial limitations in the developing countries that hinder their evolution in m-Health.

“According to a m-Health report by Telenor, 75,000 mothers and children can be saved yearly with the help of maternal data services delivered through text messages in Pakistan.”

Besides that, other important issues include the modifications in healthcare policy and understanding the implication of m-Health that can bring enhancements into the medical system on the whole. These are the issues that like other developing countries Pakistan also needs to work on. No government in the past has paid much attention to the health sector of the country and the strategy makers ignored the need of enlightening the people and providing them with the health care. But now the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has set up an unprecedented opportunity for delivery of healthcare facilities. In the recent years, especially in post 3G/4G auction era many monumental changes in IT and Telecom have taken place in Pakistan that can be considered an important enabler of digital inclusion of the country.

Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) was set up by the Government of Punjab as an independent body to use collaborations of the IT industry, academic and government institutions. It also provides IT solutions to the government to improve transparency & ease citizens via state-of-the-art methods of digital governance. Its m-Health initiatives like Dengue Monitoring System, Disease Surveillance System, Health Watch, Hospital Watch, Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEA) for Secondary Health and VET Inspect have won international recognition.

The KPK Govt has also taken up some remarkable m-Health initiatives like Independent Monitoring Unit for Health Sector (IMU) with an aim to monitor the Health services in KP.

“In post 3G/4G era, many monumental changes in IT and Telecom have taken place in Pakistan that can be considered an important enabler of digital inclusion of the country.”

Telecom operators have become a major stakeholder in m-Health by introducing various apps and initiatives. With a huge aggregated subscriber base, applications introduced by telecom operators cater wider group of people.

Following are some of the major initiatives and apps introduced by mobile operators in Pakistan:

Ufone UHealth:

It offers health consultancy on a regular basis with professional advice on lifestyle associated diseases.

Warid Doctor’s Helpline:

It provides health related information whenever it’s necessary. Doctors Helpline is an IVR service where customers can subscribe to the service and get guidance on major diseases and get guidance on possible medications.

Warid Blood Bank Services:

This is another unique SMS based service. It helps in finding Blood Donors in different cities.

Warid Bima Insurance:

This facility helps individuals secure their family’s future with financial security.

Zong Insurance:

This is Pakistan’s first Accidental Insurance via Mobile phone service. It covers accidental death or disability caused due to accident or act of terror.

Mobilink m-Health:

Mobilink’s service allows users to get basic health recommendations, with a special focus on assisting people in areas where basic health facilities are a rare service. It provides tips and cautionary measures, people can have live discussions with doctors. They can get information in case of emergency and health alerts for Men, Women and Children as well. A comprehensive diet planner is also available to keep you physically fit and healthy. Medical industry of Pakistan has been also pushing to incorporate technology and deliver advance healthcare for quite some time.

Some of the most prominent medical and healthcare apps include Mytabeeb. pk, Findmydoctor.pk, Ring MD, Pharmapedia Pakistan and Marham etc. Trequant is also a healthcare watch that facilitates people suffering from shocks to monitor and manage their condition.

“The government in collaboration with IT, telecom and medical industry should work together to create an encouraging eco-system to support mobile initiatives.”

Health issues in developing countries like Pakistan have increased at an alarming pace. The Government must plan such health polices in which the benefits of all stakeholders must be assured. If there will be good policies then m-Health sector of Pakistan will flourish and technologies will be helpful in managing health needs. The Government of Pakistan should take advantage of technology while planning steadfast m-Health systems through partnership between engineers and doctors to generate and appraise real mechanisms that can guarantee good health facilities.

“Telecom operators have become a major stakeholder in m-Health by introducing various apps and initiatives.”

The government in collaboration with IT, telecom and medical industry should work in close collaboration to create an encouraging eco-system to support mobile initiatives since it has the potential to reduce per capita cost of healthcare while increasing care quality.

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