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Mobile apps to improve health

Currently, not only in Caldas, but also in many undeveloped countries, the adherence of patients, regardless of their income, to treatments is a challenge. One specific case is TB. Even being this disease a curable one, it has been impossible to eradicate, one of the causes being low adherence of people to long term treatments. Changing this will improve the healthcare status of the population, not only for infectious diseases, but also for chronic ones. It is a fact that despite the income, more and more people around the globe have a mobile phone. This devices have enough computing power to run small apps aimed to remember patients to take their meds.

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Written by DeletedUser

Improving healthcare can be achieved in many ways, but in undeveloped countries, despite the difficulties, many people manage to access the health care system. Getting, usually, proper diagnoses and many times, being provided with the medications they need. This is the case of Tuberculosis, a treatable and curable disease, that because of many reasons still remains a problem in undeveloped nations, specially those where people living in poorness and/or malnutrition is prevalent.
Many patients fail to complete or take their meds in the proper frequency, not only because of lack of access, but also because either they "already feel fine," or because they have more than a couple of meds to take daily and confuse the doses, specially the elderly. Those patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, COPD, coronary diseases, or infectious diseases, may benefit from applications in their phones helping them remember not only to take some pill, but also how does that pill looks like (very important for patients with cognitive issues)
It is also a fact that giving patients feed back on their treatments increases the adherence rate, make them feel better and help them achieve and complete treatments. In the case of a person with TB, if that person is properly treated, the spread of the disease will be stopped and it will impact the healthcare of the entire family. 
This kind of apps could also help remember moms bring their kids for vaccinations (a very common problem) at the right moment, and not only when the kid is sick. They may also help remember women to perform self exams on their breasts, or to go (yearly) to the doctor to get the pap smear. 
One single app in a phone, could help many improve their health.

How do you envision this idea making money?

Making an app for a phone is very cheap. There should be 3 or 4 operative systems for mobile devices (Symbian, Windows mobile, Apple, etc.) And I would believe the prevalence of Symbian is higher among the people who need this more often. So in general it would be. Looking for a very small, amount of money, maybe from a private company. Or partnering with a local University, particularly with the schools of computer science, so they can create the app, say as a degree project. And getting an agreement where this app will be done as non profit. But I repeat, doing apps is a rather cheap process, specially small apps, like this one. The people already have their phones, and the installation could be for free.

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

If the people remember to take their meds, if they complete all treatments, this will improve the health status of an individual, but also of the entire family (I believe, I explained this already)

How does this idea add social value at every step of the process?

The point where it adds social value is by empowering patients and making them more responsible of their health. By also giving them feedback on their treatment. By helping them making better decisions.

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

Envision a way to get a small founding to program the app. Second, choose a high impact problem (say an app for reminding moms about vaccinations, or reminding patients to take their meds). Finally deploying the app, giving it for free to the ones who need it.

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Hi Carlos, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. We know occasionally people have issues uploading images so let us know if you face any problems. You should be able to use the 'Update this' button on the right of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring ideas on OpenIDEO!

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DeletedUser

Done! I just didn't have a particular image in mind to summarize it. Hope that one makes it...

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