Access to healthcare using mobile phones


Could one use the electronics in mobile phones to match the power and performance of advanced medical devices? And if we could, why would that matter? What problem could we solve with such a powerful set of tools?

Those were the questions that motivated the establishment of MobileODT as a means to revolutionize access to healthcare using the power of mobile phones powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The mission was and remains to save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible. What is known as the enhanced visual assessment (EVA) technology is being used to save lives on five continents. It has become a helpful tool for world leaders in their fields of medicine, and has begun to build an architecture for the betterment of healthcare services by engaging patients and providers around quality point of care examinations. 

The goal is to build the technology that will catalyze an evolution in the health system as a whole, and not just in screening. the current situation where 5.8 billion people around the world lack access to expert care is alarming. They either live too far away from an urban centre or because they cannot afford an expert examination, is unnecessary and unjust, and most importantly unnecessary. Thus, the goal is to extend technology to every health worker in the planet, so that they will be able to offer expert level examinations where-ever they are, no matter their level of expertise, using those same supercomputers they have in their pockets at the core of medical equipment powered by Cloud-based expertise to deliver care.

Today people are literally using technology to save lives as it is fast and easy to set up and run the system, and because of the fact that it is easily scalable. The EVA System is currently being used in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Swaziland and Mozambique. There are a few EVA Systems in use in South Africa as part of a study. MobileODT’s EVA system is currently being used at the Africa Cancer Institute at Stellenbosch University, Cape Town and by doctors at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg through clinical trials. This began in July 2017.

In cervical cancer screening, the EVA System improves patient care because it can be transported to rural and remote locations of Africa. Its low cost allows providers in smaller community clinics to have access to a high-quality tool for cervical cancer screening. In future models, the technology will incorporate algorithms to predict cervix type and improve patient outcomes. In forensic imaging, the technology can be carried to a patient in a remote location. This saves patients from traveling to a faraway clinic and often waiting hours.

The real-time sharing of data through the AWS cloud also allows for a more accurate screening process and faster reaction time for treatment. The system provides high availability and fault recovery, and complies with HIPAA regulations related to health care.

The two main barriers to the 5.8 Billion people around the world who lack access to quality health care is that the health providers they do have access to lack equipment and expertise. By building on the backs of mobile phones, and taking advantage of their sensors and processing power, we are able to build affordable equipment for health providers. But to build in expertise, we need to leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence, to support providers in their work at the point of care. Mobile technology has the potential to not only deliver expertise but also ensurr better care for patients.

The mobile technology is currently being used in 26 countries around the world for cervical colposcopy and forensic colposcopy, to help health providers extend care to women and victims of sexual assault. The sky really is the limit as far as it goes with the ability of technology to save lives.

 Ariel Beery is the CEO and Co-Founder of MobileODT