While new mobile applications are being written ever so often, the mobile is yet to be fully exploited for a life-saving function literally. mHealth which fulfils that, is only a few years old, and the advantage of that is that it is only set to grow dramatically. One of the world’s foremost experts in applying signal processing technology to medical diagnostics, Lionel Tarassenko, chair, Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K. firmly believes in that. He has piloted a number of trials to study the efficacy of mHealth technologies, the results of which indicate that health care indeed has a powerful tool in the mobile. Bio-med engineering, which is really the application of engineering technology to medicine, is just beginning to take off in India. Maybe in the U.K. we are 5-10 years ahead. But in some places, given India’s advantage with technology, people are quickly catching up. One area that professionals in the U.K. are focussing on and that is also relevant to India is chronic diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels are straining the National Health Service, so there is a lot of emphasis on giving the people tools to manage their health better.
The focus has shifted to the mobile phone, since nearly everybody has a mobile phone. Patients can take readings of their sugar and blood pressure levels and send them through the phone to a server which, synched with the local hospital, provides feedback. For instance, if there has been no update from a particular person in a while, reminders are sent through the phone. Patients can also maintain a quick diary on the phone as to what they are eating, how much exercise they get along with the readings, helping influence their treatment. The information, which is 256 bit ssl encrypted, is sent to clinicians in the local hospital and is automatically prioritised in terms of how bad the condition of the patient is, allowing the nurse or healthcare professional to pay attention to them first.