July 2007

Technology for Health is the Emerging Mantra

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The world seems to be  changing for the better, with ICT playing a crucial role in attempting to bridge the still yawning gap between the developed and the underdeveloped world; between the have and the have nots. Whether this will eventually lead to an egalitarian planet is a matter of debate, or perhaps die-hard optimism, but what is sure is that some significant inroads are being made. 

Take the case of Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is reeling under poverty and unemployment on the one hand and HIV and  AIDS on the other. In terms of healthcare, the region is faced with severe financial and logistical bottlenecks. But  thanks to the burgeoning mobile/wireless network scenario in Africa, the hitherto hapless people of this region now have the potential of overcoming the centuries-old  institutional deficiencies and reach a healthy e-age. The readers can get an insight into this scenario full of wonderful possibilities in our Cover Story.  

Radio Frequency Identification(RFID) is another development in medical electronics having significant bearings on the health sector. This automatic identification and data capture(AIDC)technology, which uses radio frequencies to transmit information, does have the potential to efficiently track hospital inventory, mobile medical equipments, medications and patients, and is a significant improvement over the barcode technology. We have also discussed the  wide applications of RFID technology in healthcare and its catalytic role for healthcare service providers in this issue, through an interesting and engaging article by two e-Health experts.

However, despite the recent advances in ICT and electronics, which are going to shape the healthcare of tomorrow, possibly for the better, we must take into account of the ethical considerations that are rearing their heads in this emerging ICT-enabled medical environment. The case study on information ethics in paperless hospitals in Malaysia probes to find some pertinent solutions to this troubling scenario. Read it  for  a greater insight.

Though very much unwilling to do so, I have to end the above rosy picture on a maudlin note. V.K.Sarmaranayake, an ICT icon of sorts in our part of the world, is no longer with us. However, his quintessentially innovative spirit will help us strive to cross new frontiers and unlock new doors… His vision can make the developing world of Asia reach a truly ICT age in healthcare and other development domains.

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