Cellphones Can Change Global Health for the Better
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
For two days this month, the United Nations Headquarters in New York hosted the invite-only Cavendish Global Impact Forum. Among the panel discussions was how to identify innovations with the potential for transformational impact on disease outcomes and ensure their successful integration into medical practice.
Given the relentless spread of electronic technology, I was most interested in how mobile is changing health care delivery. Last year, Forbes Top 15 Social Media Power Influencer 2013 Ted Rubin explained, “What makes mobile so incredibly important going forward is the way it unites everyone, every minute of the day, in real-time, and is so easily connected to social channels. Mobile is the ultimate enabler of real-time.”
Last summer, the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program, estimated that three-quarters of the global population has access to mobile communications. Worldwide, pre-paid and post-paid mobile subscriptions grew from fewer than 1 billion in 2000 to more than 6 billion, with developing countries accounting for nearly 5 billion. Moreover, these numbers are expected to soon exceed that of the human population, as it becomes more common for people to own multiple subscriptions.