There is an ever increasing disease-burden gap between developing and developed countries. Consequently, people involved in health care industry are thinking of ways to develop and implement effective healthcare technologies to curb this gap.
All over the world, research is being carried out to deliver quality health care to under-served and under-privileged patients. Services are being developed, including vaccines, drugs and devices, to cater to the needs of such people.
In developing countries, healthcare realm faces challenges of different kinds. Some of the issues include:
- Lack of research facilities and optimum funding.
- Shortage of Technical talent
- Infrastructure management is in-efficient.
- Lesser up-to-date medical science
All these act as barriers that impede healthcare industry in these countries from developing. Providing quality healthcare and cutting costs at the same time is not possible in such a scenario. However, some recent innovations have caught up pretty well.
For example, vaccines can now be safely administered thorough a disposable needle. This has helped curb the HIV menace to a large extent in developing countries. There are many other such technologies as well as welfare programs that have made healthcare accessible to many under-served and under-privileged patients.
Let’s talk about some of these simple yet efficient technologies that have the potential to revolutionize how people in developing countries perceive healthcare.
Cost-effective Diagnostic Technologies
- Technological lag is the major impeding factor in resource-poor regions.
- Doctors here do not have access to the technology required to diagnose patients.
- There is hardly any laboratory set-up nor are there specialist hospitals/clinics.
- Moreover, medical facilities are not always in the vicinity, thereby unable to serve widely dispersed population.
- Diagnosis done using out-dated equipments often results in inefficient drug administration and ultimately failure of entire medical infrastructure.
- Fortunately, some technologies have proved to be efficient and inexpensive at the same time.
- For example, modified molecular technologies offer an efficient and affordable diagnosis of patients suffering from infectious diseases.
- It helps in early diagnosis and checks further spread of the disease.
- Besides this, low-cost interventional radiology and neuro-endoscopic procedures are also being developed.
- Another promising technological solution is called ‘telemedicine’.
- Many areas have a dearth of health workers as well as appropriate diagnostic tools.
- Telemedicine means using telecom technologies to dispense healthcare services and information.
- The modes of communication include various channels such as email, fax, telephone and video conferencing.
- Lately, telemedicine is also used for remote patient consulting wherein a doctor can examine a patient from a distance.
- The main aim of telemedicine is to deliver treatment and medical advice to patients located at a distance.
- However, there is a disadvantage to this technology. High bandwidth connections are required to transfer the large medical images and physiological data.
- On the other hand, internet penetration is increasing at a rapid rate as compared to medical facilities are things are looking positive.
- Here too, technology comes to the rescue of the under-served patient. In here, electronic communication is used to share provide comprehensive pharmaceutical services to patients located at a distance.
- All the modern as well as traditional channels of communication are used in this field to make the services accessible.
- Telepharmacy also boosts the production of indigenous medical device manufacturing since it increases export/import possibilities.
- The local and international pharmacists can collaborate to provide drugs to a certain region.
- The whole system is centrally coordinated through one location.
- Besides drugs, patient counseling and prescriptions are also provided.
How Technology Impacts Under-Served Patients
With rising healthcare costs, technology seems to bring the much needed respite. There is a lot of potential of a large-scale merger between technology and healthcare industry. Telemedicine and e-Health are already emerging as viable alternative to expensive treatments. Some of the upcoming technologies are sure to transform the way healthcare is delivered to patients. Some such upcoming technologies include:
- Point-of-care infant screening devices
- Better reagents and diagnostic tests for cancer screening
- lab-on-a-chip technology for tests/diagnosis
- online blood bank collaboration
- low-cost cardiovascular diagnostic tests
- non-invasive screening technologies using micro-fluidics
- simple to use diagnostic screening devices
- Diagnostic bio-marker integrated with low-cost screening kits
Over time, we will see development and implementation of all above mentioned technologies. All these and more are going to benefit under-privileged patients in receiving quality and timely healthcare. With proper collaboration between governments and continuous financial flow, low-cost healthcare can penetrate developing countries effectively. Technology, therefore, has become integral to medical field. It is required to facilitate global healthcare services delivery.