A New Smartphone App Is Revolutionizing Eye Care in Developing Countries
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Though there are more cell phones than toilets in the world, many eye care health workers are still slogging away filling out patient details on paper forms, taking days to transfer files, and not having time to follow up with patients after surgery. One nonprofit has come up with a solution.
HelpMeSee, a New York–based nonprofit, has launched a mobile health, or mHealth, smartphone application that the organization says can revolutionize eye care in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in developing countries, and 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
Health workers conducting community outreach to connect people suffering from cataract blindness with clinics that can perform surgery fill out paperwork and manually transfer a patient’s file to a health clinic, which can take up to two days. The new app will help the workers send cataract images and patient data to a health clinic almost instantly. The cloud-based system can operate without Internet connection by storing data and then syncing it when a signal is available.
Once the health workers upload the data, they log the patient’s location into Google Maps. The nearest hospital or clinic receives that data and enrolls the patient for surgery.
“There are other mHealth apps and eye care apps that have been developed, but none of the others integrate into such a comprehensive solution,” says Stefany Marranzini, global campaign operations manager for HelpMeSee.
More than just GPS coordinates, she explains, the app also gives altitude measurements that help local staff figure out how long it will take for a patient to reach a clinic in a certain terrain.
- Health Care