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Intel Corporation and mPowering Frontline Health Workers are proud to be partners on Healthcare Information for All (HIFA) Voices, a global library of knowledge and experience extracted from HIFA discussion forums. In this guest blog, Dr. Neil Pakenham-Walsh explains the critical need for improved access to health information for citizens and health workers, and how HIFA Voices will help. Dr. Pakenham-Walsh is Coordinator of HIFA and Co-director of the Global Healthcare Information Network.


Every day, 2,000 children under 5 die from diarrhoea, UNICEF reports. Many of these children die because the parent or health worker caring for them does not know the basic treatment: to provide increased fluids. In India, 4 in 10 mothers believe they should withhold fluids. This belief tragically increases their child’s risk of death. Furthermore, if the child reaches a health worker, many of these providers, due to lack of training or supervision, give the child drugs that do more harm than good. JOB1112-20-lowres.jpg


People are dying for lack of knowledge. The problem is global, and it has an impact on the prevention and management not only of childhood diarrhoea but of all diseases that affect children and adults. It affects especially those billions of disadvantaged people who currently do not have access to a properly supported health worker. Very often, death and suffering could have been avoided through the timely provision of effective treatment – treatment that is often locally available.


In 1986 and 1987 I had a taste of what it is like to be an isolated health worker in a low-income country, and have since dedicated my career to understanding and addressing the information needs of citizens and health workers in low- and middle-income countries.


What can be done about it? There is no simple answer to ensure the availability and use of healthcare knowledge that is both actionable and reliable. Different groups of caregivers (citizens, community health workers, midwives, doctors) need different, but consistently accurate, information in different contexts, in the right language and format. Providing such information depends on the integrity of a complex global system of research, publication, systematic review, international guideline development, production of reference and learning materials, and helping people to find the information they need.


Thanks to mobile devices and internet, technological access to information is improving, and we can envisage near-universal access within the next 10 years. Over the same time period, the issue of relevance and reliability of content will become relatively more important than access. In particular, there is a need to find ways to enable citizens and health workers to differentiate reliable from (the vast majority) unreliable content.


Healthcare Information For All (HIFA) brings together providers and users of healthcare information – health professionals, researchers, policymakers, publishers, librarians, information profesionals - in a continuous online conference to better understand information needs and how to meet them. HIFA has more than 12,000 members in 174 countries, interacting on five global discussion forums in three languages.


A new initiative, HIFA Voices, will harness the experiential knowledge that is shared every day on these forums, so that knowledge of information needs — and how to meet them — is available to planners and implementers of health information services and products. Our innovative approach, developed in consultation with the World Health Organization and others, is to capture short, verbatim extracts, called "HIFA Quotations", from HIFA discussions.


In addition, we shall collect HIFA Citations reflecting formal and informal professional outputs of health information and library professionals. HIFA Citations will begin with a model bibliography for Kenya coordinated by health librarian Nasra Gathoni, President of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA).


As a partner to the UN and USAID, Intel is contributing towards the goal of training 1 million healthcare workers by 2015.  The company is convinced that a well-trained healthcare work force will lead to better health for women and children. Intel relies heavily on public-private partnerships for scale, reach, and impact in the health space and this support for HIFA will strengthen the resources available for Intel and other partners to reach the 1M X 15 goal. Intel continues to provide Health/Education expertise, solution architecture support, technical training, and technology information and best practices for ICT projects. Currently, Intel skoool™ Healthcare Education Platform provides eLearning, assessment, and tracking capabilities in both connected and disconnected environments is provided through an open access no charge license agreement.


We are delighted to be supported in this effort by Intel Corporation, mPowering Frontline Health Workers, The Lancet and Elsevier. HIFA Voices launches today, August 12, and you can find out more information here:


In the meantime, we invite readers to join our forums and contribute to our discussions:

If you follow the mHealth ecosystem, you’ve no doubt seen the slow development cycle of the past seven years. Yes, there are many grandiose claims and transformational headlines, usually around trade shows, but in actuality there has been limited adoption in healthcare.


However, I do see some signs of the industry turning and some recent examples of mainstream implementation.


In my presentation at World of Health 2014 this week, I outlined four recommendations for the industry to help ensure continued adoption and ultimate success:


1. Be Holistic. The solutions must be holistic—more than just a piece of technology or an innovative device. They must address relevant business interest of the necessary stakeholders. They must take into consideration workflow integration issues. Mobile Apps should be integrated to help inform and support patients. A modern platform including Social Media, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC) capabilities should be leveraged.


2. Be User-Centered. The solutions must be developed with the patients in mind. Patients are not the obstacle as we have studies showing 75 percent are willing to see a doctor using video and 53 percent are willing to trust a self-administered test. We must provide solutions that are compelling and easy to use with sufficient battery life, minimal complexity, and tight security that does not impose a burden on the patient.


3. Be Standards-Based. We have examples with WiFi and USB that show how a standardized ecosystem drives quality up, costs down, and innovation up. The same is true with healthcare and we already have foundational standards for end-end mHealth solutions from the Continua Health Alliance and HL7.


4. Be Virtual. Virtual capabilities (e.g., remote interaction, not real time face-face in the hospital) are available today. Major Provider organizations are providing online applications for lab results, doctor e-mail, prescription refills, and appointment bookings. A plethora of IoT healthcare wearables are entering the market. In Sweden, Pascal is an example system that provides tablet-based mobile prescription by homecare workers.


The mHealth initiative is moving forward and will inevitably impact our lives and change the way we approach our health. While the market is not transforming as fast as some anticipated, there is no denying that we are making progress and I am looking forward to what is to come in the future.


What questions do you have about mHealth adoption?


Rick Cnossen is Director of Global Health IT at Intel.


Follow him on Twitter (@RickCnossen)

See his other posts here

I have been going to the mHealth Summit for the past four years. As much as the mHealth industry is progressive and dynamic, it is also in some ways very slow to develop as many of the discussions and keynotes from this year were not altogether different from those of four years ago.


However, I do see progress and I’m optimistic about the positive impact mHealth will eventually have. Here are three developments that I find encouraging:


1.) Doctor Prescription of Apps. According to PC Magazine(1), doctors are now starting to prescribe mobile apps. Some of the top prescribed apps mentioned included:


• Allergist- four-day pollen forecast

• Cardiologist- Smoking cessation support

• Dentist- tooth brushing education

• Dermatologist- mole tracking

• Obgyn- Pregnancy education and social support

• Pediatrician- activity tracking

• Nutritionist- glucose trending


I can envision additional Apps that enable consumers to take a more proactive approach to their health (e.g., quality of sleep tracking and education).  Are there other Apps that you would consider using if your doctor prescribed it?


2.) Patient Engagement. In the U.S., several of the Meaningful Use capabilities that are being incentivized from the HHS HITECH Act promote mHealth for patient engagement. These include:


• Patient ability to view online, download electronic copies of their health information and clinical summaries

• Patient reminders for preventive/ follow-up care

• Patient-specific education resources

• Electronic messaging to communicate between patients and care providers

• Access to self-management tools


Mobile devices will make it easier to use these capabilities and should result in better informed, engaged consumers. If these capabilities were available now from your Provider, would you take advantage of them?


3.) Proven Results. There have been many trials and implementations with positive outcome indicators as follows:


• 30 percent reduction in medication errors (2)

• 50 percent reduction in wait time (ER, admission, transport) (3)

• 85 percent faster to transact admission, discharge, and transfer changes (4)


Driving costs down will continue to be a high priority for care centers and proven ROI savings from mHealth implementations are important to increase adoption.


The mHealth initiative is moving forward and will inevitably impact our lives and change the way we approach our health.  While the market is not transforming as fast as some anticipated, there is no denying that we are making progress.  I’m encouraged by the developments discussed above and am looking forward to what is to come in the future.


What are your thoughts on mHealth advancement?




2) Wireless at El Camino Hospital, California

3) St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Houston, Texas

4) RFID at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Alabama

Technology is making patient care a true team sport. Care coordination and collaboration among clinicians is now more available than ever before and a key area of emphasis for the NHS moving forward.  Security must also play a big part in this technology revolution, as patient data must be private and secure.


To address these key health IT components, Intel is hosting two seminars in London and Manchester coming up on May 14 and May 16 that will demonstrate the outcome benefits of key enabling technologies such as big data analytics, data mining, and mobility.


The full-day events give you an opportunity to listen to presentations and participate in collaborative sessions with healthcare industry experts. You will also be able to:


• Learn how healthcare organisations are developing workflows that enable sharing of information, remove barriers to care integration and support clinical and integrated governance

• See how information yielded by big data analytics can lead to improved clinical outcomes and treatment options for patients, significant research insights, improved care coordination and enhanced patient safety

• Hear from industry leaders about ways to keep mobile clinical tools (tablets, smartphones) safe from security risks.


Among the featured speakers are Antony Sumara, CEO at Royal Bolton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who will be on hand in London on May 14. Most recently, Mr. Sumara has been involved in supporting failing organisations throughout the country, including University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Hillingdon and Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust. He was sent by “Monitor” and the DH, to rescue Mid Staffs and to restore public confidence in the Trust.


In Manchester, Bill Ollier, a Professor of Immunogenetics at Manchester University and Director of the Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research, will share insights on his research into the genetic basis of common complex disorders.


We hope to see you at one of the sessions. Be sure to register for one or both of the events, and let us know what questions you have. More information is available here.

Middle East oil producers have accumulated handsome budget surpluses thanks to sustained oil prices during the last decade and governments are doing the right thing by spending these on social development. Healthcare and education are the key sectors that are benefiting from this boon and information technology is claiming a fair share of government spending.


Qatar has already been spending a good part of its oil wealth in education and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is investing heavily into healthcare services including large IT deployments which include setting up three data centres and one of the largest national PACS deployments in the world. All these initiatives are tapping on cutting edge cloud solutions which offer seamless access to patient data across the care continuum as well as securely and cost effectively storing patient data.


Intel and our technology partners are increasingly shifting focus to healthcare IT projects in the region. We recently held a workshop in Riyadh with Dell on mobile healthcare to learn from leading healthcare providers how they are planning to improve care coordination with technology. Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar has just delivered a Clinical Information System (CIS) Conference in Doha to more than 1,400 clinicians which offered CME, CNE and CPD credits to participants. How is that for a change that awards our caregivers for learning effective use of technology?


While the region is on a fast track preparing their health workforce for improved patient care, we have been researching how the Middle East is faring with respect to mobility and care coordination vis-à-vis the developed world. We have just completed a regional survey with HIMSS Analytics and the results are fairly surprising.


In some aspects, the region is way ahead and in some respects catching up. Among mobile devices provided to clinicians, tablets specifically for healthcare use is expected to rise to 41 percent this year from about 24 percent, while all types of cellular phones and pagers are on decline. This does not mean clinicians won’t be using them. They will simply become Bring Your Own Devices, a big challenge for device manageability. Only 3 percent of the health workforce is expected to get a smartphone or feature phone compared to as high as 45 percent procured by the healthcare institutions before.


I will present the survey details at a HIMSS Middle East Regional Event in Riyadh next week, and have the honor of addressing distinguished participants from regional governments, healthcare industry and the IT sector. I would like to share one worry that keeps me awake at night. A recent report from Bank of America is forecasting that the oil price will halve within two years due to a number of factors including yet again greater use of technology. Should this occur, would the Middle East governments have the same enthusiasm to continue with the social investments in healthcare and education or start to cut back just like the developed world is doing today?


How do we keep the momentum going to finally reap the benefits of current investments in healthcare IT? What do you think?


Rick Cnossen is the Worldwide Director, Healthcare IT, at Intel Corp.