mEHR: Sophisticated Technologies, Remote Locales, Intimate Needs

Could the next revolution in global health care be mobile?  The United Nations Foundation’s mHealth Alliance (hat tip: Peter Groen) explains that

Today there are  approximately 5 billion mobile devices in use around the world — and close to two-thirds of them are in the hands of people living in emerging market economies. Mobile phones have the ability to dramatically change the lives of those who use them, including healthcare providers.

DataDyne, A Washington, D. C.-based nonprofit, open source software company is helping lead the way in this new field (in part with the help of a UN Foundation grant).  DataDyne claims that their EpiSurveyor (profiled by the BBC) application is “the most widely-used mHealth software in the world.”

The BBC quotes/summarizes a few words from co-founder Dr. Joel Selanikio:

“Interestingly, there are a lot of people out there apparently who are neither working in health nor working in developing countries who wish to do similar things.”

For example, he said, the Ministry of Agriculture in Canada use the tool to collect data on veterinary disease in rural farms.

“And the World Bank is planning on using EpiSurveyor to do judicial reform surveys in Argentina,” he said.

These more commercially-minded clients provide DataDyne the ability to experiment with payment models previously out of reach to developing world users.

Until now, the project has been kept afloat by grants from the likes of Vodafone and the UN Foundation.

(A thought: Is the pattern of using grant money to develop a nonprofit service/application, then selling the service to commercial enterprises, becoming more common?  it seems to me that that approach could constitute a wise business plan (by providing start-up funds), to put aside the social value for a moment.–BE)