Muqbil Ahmar
June 02, 2017

Big Data in Healthcare: How Medical Apps are Supporting Healthcare in Developing Countries

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Medical Apps powered by Big Data can help doctors share best practices as well as treat patients internationally. The Apps generally combine live streaming and instant messaging and networking in a secure environmentDirect and double encrypted conversations among doctors can be achieved through these state-of-the-art Applications. Encryption ensures the privacy of interactions, even as a patient receives the best medical advice and care. Healthcare professionals using the Apps are put through a credentials check before being admitted into the system.

The Big Data Medical Apps in particular, can be revolutionary: A doctor with Medicines sans Frontieres (MSF) in war-ridden Syria can coordinate and operate together with a surgeon based in California to treat a rocket blast the victim through live streaming. It does sound incredible. This is where medical science and modern technology such as Big Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) are headed for.


Cloud-based Big Data Apps provide Crucial Information on the Go

Big Data Apps provide access to an interactive educational library featuring training courses, live streams, huge volume of research along with in-house virtual reality, points of view, and augmented reality productions. Such features allow physicians to run through millions and millions of research papers and genetic sequencing data, conduct high-speed analysis, sift through numerous treatment records globally, delivering insights into treatment of patients with a specific DNA sequence or specific blood group. Medical personnel can benchmark patients with past occurrences, analyzing how patients with particular genes respond to specific treatments, enabling them to make decisions based on facts, not mere judgment.


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Organizations like MDLinking are building doctor networks across the world, including medical colleges and not-for-profit healthcare institutions like the Aga Khan Development Network, Partners in Health, and Doctors Without Borders.


Such smart phone applications are designed so as to leverage the device’s storage to build usable offline functionality that can be used in case of low Internet connectivity in places like war zones, rural areas, or places struck by disaster. The Apps are different from Web applications in that they don’t need a continuous Internet connection. Offline functionality allows the Apps to connect to Cloud-based applications and retrieve data when internet connectivity is available. For example, online medical journals and articles can be accessed even if there is no Internet connection or when connection is intermittent or periodic. 


High-quality healthcare for Third World and developing countries

Billions around the world, particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries with low incomes, suffer due to absence of proper healthcare. India ranks amazingly low on the World Health Organization’s list of global healthcare systems, and in fact a huge chunk of the Indian population is still outside the ambit of health services. In such cases,  collective medical knowledge will help in providing health services to the 5 billion people in Asia and Africa with little access to healthcare.

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The technology would be especially helpful in such settings as it would remove the resources spent transporting patients from one health institution to another. Medical professionals from across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the USA are signing up for such Apps. The day may not be far when a patient in Kampala will be operated by surgeons spread over California, Sidney, and Cairo.

I hope that day dawns soon.

I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @muqbil_ahmar and LinkedIn.

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