Imagine a doctor associated with Medicines sans Frontieres in a war zone in Afghanistan and working together with a surgeon in California to treat the victim of a rocket blast through live streaming. Doesn’t it sound incredible? Well, this is where medical science together with modern technology such as Big Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) is headed for today.
Medical Apps such as MDLinking help doctors around the world share their best practices and treat patients on an international scale. The Apps combine live streaming with instant messaging and networking in a totally secure environment. Direct, double encrypted conversations between doctors can be made possible through these Apps. The encryption ensures that the privacy of the interactions is maintained, even while the patient receives the best medical care and advice. Healthcare professionals who want to use the Apps are put through a tough credentials check before being admitted to the system.
“Confidentiality has to be an inalienable component of such Applications, otherwise the trust between a patient and a doctor can break down, leading to miscommunication or worse no communication at all. Though technology has brought about wide-ranging change in the world of medical science, one aspect had not been addressed till now and that is confidentiality,” said Dhiren Singh, an official from MerlinMD, a Singapore-based healthcare provider.
Giving an indication of the unsafe modes of communication prevalent among medical professionals, a Deskera survey showed that 80 percent of doctors and nurses continue to use existing instant messaging services, despite privacy concerns.
Cloud-based Big Data Analytics
The Big Data Analytics element of the Apps provides access to an interactive educational library featuring live streams, training courses, large volumes of research and in-house point of view, virtual reality and augmented reality productions. These features allow doctors to conduct high-speed analysis, run through millions of research papers and genetic sequencing data, go through numerous treatment records throughout the world, getting deeper insights into how to treat a patient having a specific blood group, DNA sequence or characteristic. Doctors can benchmark patients against past occurrences, analyze how patients with specific genes respond to different treatments, and make decisions based on facts, not judgment.
“Big Data Analytics provides doctors an immense opportunity to dig deep and come up with novel treatments, that may have eluded them earlier,” said Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera, a Big Data Analytics firm.
Organizations such as MDLinking are building cross-linked networks across the world with a range of bodies, including medical colleges and non-profit healthcare establishments such as Partners in Health, the Aga Khan Development Network and Doctors Without Borders.
Mobile applications can be designed in such a way so as to efficiently leverage the device storage to build usable offline functionality which can be useful in case of low or no Internet connectivity such as rural areas, war zones and places where disaster has struck. This is unlike Web applications which need a continuous connection. The offline functionality would allow the mobile application to connect with Cloud-based applications and retrieve data as and when the internet connectivity is available. For instance, medical articles and journals, which are available online, can be accessed within mobile applications any time even if there is no Internet connection or where the connection is periodic or intermittent.
Bringing quality healthcare to the Third World
Billions of people around the world, particularly in the developing and underdeveloped world with low incomes, suffer due to lack of proper healthcare. India ranks 112 on World Health Organization’s list of global healthcare systems, with a large chunk of the Indian population outside the purview of health services. The collective medical knowledge could help in providing healthcare services to the over 5 billion people in low-income countries in Asia and Africa who have little access to healthcare. This technology is especially helpful in such settings by removing the effort and resources spent transporting patients from one healthcare institution to another.
Medical professionals from Europe, Africa, Asia and the USA are signing up for such Apps, and the day may not be far when a patient in Honolulu can be operated upon by a team of surgeons spread over Sidney, California, and Cairo.