How Wireless Technology Will Change Global Health

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There is a slick new television commercial advertising Apple’s iPad. It includes a cool medical application that can be used for medical imaging. The advertisement shows a trend in medicine: in the last two years there has been an explosion of growth in wireless medicine, which includes digestible smart pills, networked implantable devices, and smart phone applications. The United States is an innovator in this technology, which has the capability to connect patients and healthcare providers, empower patients (akin to the way the Internet changed information flow), and create a vast health network that can lead to faster cures. Investment in wireless medicine is an important way for the United States to continue its lead as a healthcare innovator.

To continue this innovation, and to have a larger more, profound, global impact, the United States needs to let developers innovate; the popular sentiment that medical technology is expensive needs to be re-examined; and, more importantly, we need to harness our technologic investments to help the world’s poor.

The United States medical community, Silicon Valley and telecom companies have the moral responsibility to help create wireless health applications for the developing world. This is not only an ethical no-brainer, it is also an economically smart move—a healthier world will save costs at home too. The United States healthcare system not only absorbs millions of the world’s sick, the U.S. spends billions each year to put band-aids on health issues abroad.

Of course, the world’s poor don’t own Apple iPads, but many of them own a more sophisticated device than what was used for the first moon landing: it’s called a cell phone.

Source: Fast Company (link opens in a new window)