on November 3rd, 2015 No Comments
How can Silicon Valley-style know-how help improve health and lift up the lives of the poor in the developing world? That question was the focus of a panel discussion among four distinguished speakers last week at a Stanford conference on global development and poverty.
Panelist Ramana Rao, MD, described one technologically-based solution he helped develop with colleagues in Hyderabad, India: a 911-type emergency care system which now serves some 750 million people across the South Asian country.
Though the system, users can call a single number – 108 – to summon an ambulance and team of skilled providers who can provide treatment en route to the nearest hospital. The system, a public-private partnership known as GVK EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), uses advanced call center technology, in which trained operators typically respond to calls within the first ring and relay them immediately to paramedics and emergency medical technicians on ambulances in the field, Rao told an audience of more than 200 people at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The system uses Google maps to help quickly locate patients. And the designers have introduced a mobile device app, which can be easily downloaded to call the service and which can be used to track the location of a caller during the first hour, the critical “golden hour” for treating trauma patients, he said.
Panel moderator Paul Yock, MD, PhD, noted the system is far more effective than the fragmented, 911 emergency system in the United States. “It’s a marvelous example of technology leap-frogging what we do here in this country,” said Yock, founder and director of Stanford Biodesign.
The Indian system was made possible in part by the soaring popularity of cell phones in India, used by 950 million people, including the poor.
“The mobile phone has been the most transformational technological advance in the developing world in the last 15 years,” noted panelist Rajiv Shah, MD, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.