How healthcare technology can make a difference in developing countries
By Dr. Narayan Sundararajan on June 7, 2013
Think about this: pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage and prolonged and obstructed labor together account for more than 50 percent of all maternal deaths in developing countries. That’s why the Second Global Midwifery Symposium in Kuala Lumpur last month was so important for introducing strategies to strengthen healthcare in developing regions.
One of the biggest strategies is introducing technology to the process.
A workshop that Intel participated in with UNFPA, WHO and JHPIEGO launched three key e-learning modules for training frontline healthcare workers and midwives on life-saving skills. The energy, passion and vibe from the participants during the training and workshop was tremendous; they all really want to make a positive difference in the world.
During the session, around 70 midwives, frontline health workers and others from more than 25 countries were trained on how to use the skoool™ healthcare education platform. The open access, no charge license e-learning application can be used both offline and online, and can house various types of content formats including the three modules on pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage and prolonged and obstructed labor with associated quizzes.
Each participant’s laptop was loaded with the platform and modules to take back to their respective countries. The sponsoring organizations challenged each of them to see how they could incorporate such a platform and modules in their own country’s health system to bridge the gap between lack of facilities and trainers and critical shortage of health workers.
In addition to the workshop, I gave an overview presentation on innovations as strategies and made the following key points:
• Innovation is defined as something new, fresh or improved but that creates value. And, it is important to understand where your innovation falls in the spectrum of incremental, modular, architectural or radical innovation and what the value it creates is.
• Doing that is not just a theoretical exercise but allows self-introspection on its novelty, the potential impact it will have and most importantly, the obstacles or roadblocks that will be faced and need to be overcome for its successful implementation and scaling.
• Traditionally, governments and development agencies are more comfortable with incremental innovations whereas more examples of radical innovations are found in the private sector. Hence, public private collaboration is a key to encouraging radical innovations that have tremendous impact.
A four-way collaboration between Intel, UNFPA, JHPIEGO and WHO is an example of a radical innovation that has the power to transform healthcare access, quality and cost as it exists now and in particular, revamp healthcare education and training as it is delivered today. That’s why innovation is no longer a choice, and applying technologically innovative solutions to address big problems in maternal and child health is an imperative.
What do you think?