Mobile technology in medicine: a step to upgrade and the small steps forward

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Anita –Varvara Juchiac, a 5th year medical student in Timisoara, Romania. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Here I am in 2020, writing about how modern technology and the approach to it can lead eventually to saving lives. If you are thinking about ultra-modern, high end technology, you couldn’t be more wrong about it. Yes, that could lead to this success story, but not everyone can benefit of it or afford it. So, how can it actually be applied? What is one thing, small enough to be taken everywhere but with enough technology included that can actually help? Mobile phones.

Before we begin, I would like to present one of my stories. A couple of years ago, when I was a 3rd year medical student and also a volunteer in the Emergency Department at my local hospital, the “refugee’s crisis” came. We had refugee camps just outside the city and they were seeking medical assistance, and even with the emergency system being free of charge, they were still reluctant to come. But when they did, that’s when the problems also were risen. A language barrier. They weren’t speaking a common language known by us, but neither did we for them. And since we didn’t have an interpreter in the hospital, we managed in the best ways we could think of, the all mighty Google translate. We were using our phones to help the patients. 

And that’s when it struck me. In our medical profession, on a daily basis, we are using our phones, consciously or not. But how can that make a difference? Let us think of resources for once, being that medical equipment or people. If we are considering a small hospital with poor funding, they cannot afford the latest but yet necessary equipment or hiring extra people. But what if we would transform that technology, at least a part of it, to be compatible with smartphones? If we are taking into consideration the example of an ultrasound machine, that was converted into a simple transducer compatible with a phone, we are talking about an examination and diagnosis tool which was put in the pocket of a healthcare professional, enabling it  to be used at any moment and also made it affordable and available. And keeping the same tone, we are in a continuously moving society where people are bound to travel, and with that inevitably comes the need of medical assistance but we are also facing the difficulties of language barriers. Most of the hospitals might not have an interpreter available 24/7. That’s when technology in the form of a smart phone is also present.

In today’s time, the difference won’t be made by the newest and most complicated technology but by how many people can actually benefit of it, hence the need of medical technology compatible to smartphones. In a world with different finances, the change will be made by the perspective we are taking. Training the healthcare professionals  but simplifying their access to equipment will lead to saving the most lives.

About the author

Anita –Varvara Juchiac is a 5th year medical student in Timisoara, Romania. She has been volunteering since the age of 13 so when she started medical university, going into IFMSA felt like the natural thing to do. She is also a volunteer in the emergency department of her local hospital and on the ambulance. Her biggest dream in life, career wise at least, is to be able to provide medical assistance to those in need the most.

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