This chapter highlights the major issues in the use of broadband technologies in health care in developing countries. The use of Internet technologies in the health sector has immense potential in developing countries, especially in the context of public health programs. Some of the main uses of information and communication technologies (ICT) in health include remote consultations and diagnosis, information dissemination and networking between health providers, user groups, and forums, Internet-based disease surveillance and identification of target groups for health interventions, facilitation of health research and support to health care delivery, and administration. The technology has immense potential, but is also constrained by lack of policy direction, problems with access to technology, and lack of suitable infrastructure in developing nations. However, given its crucial role in public health, comprehensive efforts are required from all concerned stakeholders if universal e-health is to become a reality.
Key Terms in this Chapter
ADSL Technology: The asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology is the technology which enables transmission of Internet data at faster rates than a regular modem using existing systems of ordinary telephone lines. Its range is limited to within about 5 km.
Telemedicine: Telemedicine refers to the exchange of information between patient and health care provider through electronic media for consultative, diagnostic, or treatment purposes.
EMR: The electronic medical record (EMR) is simply a medical record in electronic format, either captured directly on a computing device or created by entering patient data onto a computer.
Alma Ata Declaration, 1978: The Alma Ata Declaration was the outcome of the International Conference on Primary Health Care held in 1978 in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan. This declaration led to the adoption of the primary health care approach as the key public health strategy by all WHO member countries.
GIS: Geographic information system (GIS) is the application of computer programs for capturing, storing, and analyzing spatially referenced data which can also be used for resource planning and management purposes.
E-Health: The term “e-health” has been used in this chapter to denote all applications of Internet technology in health care, whether for commercial or for developmental purposes.
PDA: The personal digital assistant (PDA) is a hand-held computing device with a number of functions including palm-top Internet access. Though commercially used as a personal assistant, it is being used by development personnel working in the field to record data electronically and often also to transmit field information electronically to a remote server.