St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore
The Mobile Revolution in the recent years has shrunk the world. It has transformed the way we live. It has made healthcare accessible at the touch of a button, in the palm of our hand…
I have worked with mobile technology since 2009, at a time, when the Indian healthcare community was yet to realize its potential… Having worked with the first Indian mobile health trial, the HIVIND, that sought to test the efficacy of weekly interactive voice calls combined with an SMS, for supporting adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), I was introduced to both sides of the mobile health (mHealth) coin, i.e., the promising pilot and the less promising results in the trial. Subsequently, I worked with, project UNITE that tested a complex mobile phone based intervention to ART adherence, TAMA (treatment advice by mobile alerts), developed by Janssen Research and Development, Belgium.
Designing and implementing the first pilot for the 99DOT mHealth intervention (Microsoft Research India), currently implemented nationwide to support adherence to antitubercular treatment in people living with HIV/AIDS, gave me insight into information technology (IT) and its dynamicity. Working directly with the IT sector, I became aware that technology moves at a pace much faster than healthcare. The right balance between technology and healthcare is necessary, if the technology is to be exploited optimally for healthcare.
The quest for minimizing bias in monitoring and supporting adherence to antitubercular treatment, drew me to the concept of the mobile video-based direct observed treatment, a promising alternative to direct observed treatment (DOT). Having first worked with the concept in the miDOT project in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, USA, I also came to realize the need for adapting interventions in the context of available technology.
I strongly believe that technology can only support and not replace the component of healthcare that is human, that healthcare interventions should be developed with a patient centric approach, adapted to the cultural context they will be implemented in, if they are to be effective.