Can Tech Solutions Power a New Kind of Health Care for the Developing World?
Friday, January 29, 2016
People around the world risk their lives by trusting health care workers who sometimes are doing nothing more than shooting in the dark.
Bangladesh is one of 57 countries in the world that faces a critical shortage of doctors, with a doctor to patient ratio of 1:2500. More than 70% of the population resides in areas devoid of infrastructure like hospitals, forgoing expensive trips to urban hubs. Instead, rural Bangladesh seeks treatment from untrained, ill-equipped local health care providers called “village doctors,” which poses life threatening risks.
MDoc, founded by Rubayat Khan and Ahmed Bakr, trains existing village doctors to use a tablet to consult with urban doctors, culminating in a printed prescription and the purchase of medication. By leveraging existing relationships in communities, mDoc increases the chances of the proverbial arrow hitting the apple without undermining or replacing the marksman. The patient benefits from ease of access and a more accurate diagnosis. mDoc’s staff provide tablets, printers, and medical devices like blood pressure cuffs and glucose meters as part of the initial package.
“The village doctors make assumptions, like if someone has fever then it’s automatically the flu,” says Khan. “While a useful heuristic for many cases, this can sometimes complicate the situation. There are instances where people die because of the wrong medication.”