Despite the rise in digital convergence and mobility, recent innovations in telemedicine, the healthcare industry is still behind except when it comes to equipment and facilities. The human element has been stagnant for decades and it’s about time to personalize the healthcare services offered to patients to improve engagement, accessibility, and convenience, as in other industries like financial, transportation and logistics, and retail that pave the way to digital adoption and convergence.
In recent years, some healthcare providers made significant investments to integrate their systems with telecom providers and SMS gateways to reach a wider segment of patients more conveniently, however most applications and use cases covered basic functionality limited to appointment bookings, reminders, and feedback collection in the forms of mobile surveys. While such applications partially improved the timeliness of services offered, they had minimum effects on quality of services, responsiveness, and the potential of breakthrough solutions that can significantly improve patient quality of life altogether.
The latest trends in service oriented economies mandate a consumer centric approach to problem solving. Since healthcare services are no exception, in fact patient awareness and education levels are significantly rising, patients are demanding continuous and personalized engagement from healthcare providers beyond basic reminders. These demands include customized prescription refill reminders, new drug availability for existing conditions, in addition to various prevention and protection services like immunization campaigns and annual health checkup reminders.
In today’s world all the above use cases and applications are within reach, but it may be a good time to consider future applications that extend beyond today’s traditional service. For example, a leap in emergency response handling in cases of injuries preventing patients from making a call and providing information about their whereabouts, medical conditions and any other information needed by emergency respondents to locate, rescue and provide treatment to such patients. This may also be more helpful when coupled with location-based services (LBS) to offer more lifesaving opportunities than what’s considered possible today even beyond medical services. In light of recent world events, and with the increasing threat of terrorism, Facebook’s Safety Check feature is an excellent example of how technology can save lives.
While all those ideas are considerably achievable in a matter of months, one must consider the technology limitations and requirements that may hinder the delivery of such services especially in dire straits such as political turmoil, natural disasters or even terrorist activities that may render telecom infrastructure unusable or inaccessible due to downtime or overloads, couldn’t SMS be used to save lives?
With that in mind, some innovations like self-contained and auto-powered satellite transmitters and receivers may provide basic connectivity in affected areas where no internet connectivity is available. Such applications are already under experimentation by disaster relief organizations whereby such solutions are deployed and can provide a local wireless network where people can use low bandwidth consuming services such as SMS to get in touch with loved ones, request help, or potentially provide early warning to other communities that may be at risk. In conclusion, visionaries of all industries should unite and consider sharing their insights as this may help humanity take a leap in the future of the wellbeing of everyone with innovative thinking and cross industry cooperation to improve lives everywhere.