Saturday, 24 August 2013

"How might ICTs improve access to healthcare?" by Stephanie Horsford

In todays world, with a rapidly growing population, the governments have to find more effective ways to ensure that their population is taken care of, especially in terms of healthcare.
In certain countries that  offer comprehensive social welfares systems for example, Great Britain,  the NHS (National Health Service) takes care of the general population's healthcare needs. However, the system is not foolproof, as certain hospitals have shown inabilities to cope with the amount of cases and people to deal with, for example in United Lincolnshire hospitals in the UK.

Because there is already a lot of pressure on the governments of many countries to provide the healthcare, the ICTs can start to make a difference. With the technology that most people have access to today, such as 3G phones being able to access internet anywhere in the world, access to healthcare can be improved thanks to ICTs.

With Apple being one of the biggest technological industries in the world, it is possible to create a hospital app for each country, which would locate the nearest hospital and also provide information like answers to general directory questions. Further on from this, doctors could contact the people on their way to the hospital or people who are waiting for the emergency services to arrive. They could therefore be in direct contact, whether by video, text or telephone, in order to advise the people with the patient what actions should be taken.

ICTs can also reduce the transport time to and from hospitals; for people with medical support machines at home, the machines used to treat the patients can automatically send the information everyday or every week to the hospital for doctors to assess and determine what needs to be done. The doctors can therefore advise the patients or the patient's family what to change or what not to change in the medication, diet, or treatment.

For countries that have vast remote locations such as the outback of Australia, ICTs could be the difference between life and death when through ICTs you can send an image of the injury and receive immediate response and advice.

For illnesses like diabetes, certain insulin pumps have a Wi-Fi signal and can, like the machines mentioned before, regularly update the hospitals, and doctors on site can determine whether anything needs to be changed to better deliver the medication or treatment immediately.

Also something that could be used from home thanks to ICTs would be an online website of each hospital, where anyone can ask questions, and where the answers will be answered by certified doctors and not just anybody. A glossary could be available of all medication and possible pills or creams or solutions, so that if someone forgets what their medication is for, they are able to access, through  a secure site,their account in order to check that they are using the correct medication.

All in all, ICTs has the endless scope to be able to improve access to healthcare, initially mainly in more developed countries, then in the future developing  countries by providing a better and a more responsive and cost effective cheaper direct contact with people who can help, without the need to travel or take time to be consulted face to face on medication or to confirm.

Of course this does not negate the need for personal appointment but rather brings  a more effective peace of mind  to patients and addresses the issue of travel time. Furthermore, ICTs are useful in cases where  people are able to find different medical techniques in different continents or countries that in their own they are not able to access.

Stephanie Horsford

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