Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

The Mobile Revolution in Rural Health Care

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Around the world, mobile phone use is skyrocketing. In Colombia, there are more mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants than in the United States. In Kenya, more than four out of every ten people are mobile subscribers—up from essentially zero just 10 years ago. And because phones are often shared within families, mobile access is even greater. Connected to the network and inexpensive enough to be purchased by many more people than can afford a desktop or a laptop, the mobile phone is becoming a “computer for the people.”

Nowhere is the revolutionary potential of this rapid spread of mobile technology as great as in the field of health care for underserved communities. In this connected new world, nearly any health worker has the ability to consult with colleagues using something as simple and as affordable as a $20 mobile phone. Without a doubt, this simple technology, unimaginable 20 years ago but today taken for granted, has gone a long way toward ending the physical and intellectual isolation of rural health care providers…

[Editor’s Note: In the print edition of the magazine, the countries in the chart above were listed in the incorrect order. This version has been corrected. We apologize for the error.]

Tags: Health care, Information and communication technology, Rural development
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