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GLOBAL – Health care is an industry that is driven by information. Differing types of data including patient data, research data, statistics and trends power the diagnoses and treatments applied to individuals and groups of patients, every day. In the healthcare field, mobile phones represent an innovative tool to reach patients, gather data and deploy information.

How are mobile phones being used around the world to better the health of the world’s population? Lets spin the globe and see the various usages and campaigns powered by these amazing little devices.

Data gathering in the field

Deep in the Amazon jungle, in the city of Manaus, Brazil, the Amazonas State Health Department needed a new method to help track and monitor dengue fever in this very rural area. Using Nokia Data Gathering, a software solution that helps public sector and NGOs quickly gather data in association with disease outbreaks and disaster relief.

By utilizing questionnaires and photos that are geotagged utilizing the Nokia E71, the public health organization in Brazil is able to utilize the mobile data network to give public officials current and accurate data to make crucial decisions. The Nokia Data Gathering system allows 600 public health workers all over the state of Amazonas to interview citizens and disperse data without having to use manual paper methods that only slowed the process when time was of the essence.

Ensuring clean drinking water in Haiti

After the disastrous earthquake left Haiti reeling, one of the first problems and one that continues today, is the issue of clean drinking water. To help ensure families have a regular supply of drinking water, Nokia Research Center and Deep Springs International teamed up ensure a clean drinking water supply is present, utilizing NFC to provide accurate information that can easily be disseminated to decision makers.

In this effort, water treatment kits are being provided to track chlorine levels in household water using NFC-enabled mobile phones. Through roughly 50 Nokia 6212 phones and UPM NFC tags, public health officials are using a custom app for the mobile phones. You see, many families in Haiti have a 5-gallon bucket that houses water and a chlorine mix to provide a clean water solution. When water technicians read the NFC tags on the buckets and kit, they utilize the phone software to ask relevant questions about the water being tested. Then the data is sent to a central headquarters via SMS.

Through the use of NFC and SMS, technicians spend less time collecting data and are enabled to visit more houses to ensure more families have clean water.

Picture this: fighting malaria outbreaks

One to three million deaths are caused every year by malaria alone. Mostly consisting of young children in sub-Saharan Africa, this terrible disease claims too many lives each year. Unfortunately, there are not enough hospitals, health workers or equipment to help diagnose and treat malaria victims. There is a group that is trying to help from the University of California at Berkeley, who is using a modified Nokia n73 that will help make the diagnosis process quicker and more accurate.

By taking the N73 and adding a battery powered LED lamp and a series of filters, the phone becomes an inexpensive mobile microscope with the necessary components to detect malaria, sickle-cell anemia and tuberculosis from fluid smears. The project is called Cell Scope and makes it simpler to discover when disease is present and also to help scientists send their images to labs via mobile networks.

By utilizing advance cameras that are attached to mobile devices and fast 3G networks, scientists and NGOs are using mobile phones to help detect, track and diagnose medical issues. How do you see mobile phones affecting health care? Is there a use case that we haven’t seen yet?  Sound off below!

Photo credit: Ishan Manjrekar