Wireless health

Posted on April 10, 2010  /  3 Comments

I was seeing a doctor in Washington DC and had to explain to him what allergy medicine I was on. This was an unplanned visit and I did not have the prescriptions. So I showed him the package. He pulled out his i-phone and googled the brand name (I thought), instead of walking over to the computer just outside.

Few weeks later, I was at a relative’s place, the kind of place where you still have to go to the garden to get a decent signal (much improved from when I was DGT when one had to stand in a precise location in the middle of a paddy field). Again a question arose on what medicine was what. While everyone else was dialing pharmacists (unsuccessfully) and searching for prescriptions, I wandered off to the garden, googled the brand names and came back with the answer, thanks to the doctor in DC. Plan for driving to the nearest town to get the answer was scrapped.

The Economist has a good piece on the special applications for medicine from wireless.

Doctors are an obvious early target for wireless health. A forthcoming report by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), a think tank, estimates that two-thirds of American physicians already have smart-phones. Over one-third of American doctors use Epocrates, a program for mobiles and laptops which offers instant information on drug-to-drug interactions, treatment recommendations and so on. The software will soon be able to access electronic health records (EHRs) via mobiles—which the author of the CHCF’s report thinks could be “the killer application” of wireless health.

So it seems the DC doctor was not googling, but using a specialized database optimized for mobiles. But what my little emulation showed was that Google is not too bad either.


  1. Google Health is a platform to store your own medical history, including prescriptions, more specifically termed as Personal Health Records a subset of the entire gamut of Electronic Medical Records. In the future this information will securely reside in the cloud as well as your personal mobile phone memory just like Google offline Calendar or Mail.

    The greater challenge that lies ahead for us is developing those robust and efficient clinical information digitizing application (i.e. mHealth apps) to capture that information at the point of care; especially in our part of the world where a Doctors see over 100 patients in 5 hours.

  2. If a doctor can avoid sitting down in front of the computer because the hand held provides direct access to the information they need, significant gains in productivity can be made regardless of the application that is being used to get at the information. Patients too can make use of such information although they certainly won’t have access to the same applications at this point.