Advances in technology have made it possible for many standard diagnostic and health monitoring procedures, traditionally carried out by qualified personnel within medical facilities, to be reliably undertaken by patients or carers in their own homes with a minimum of basic training. There has also been a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of both sources of information on health issues and the possibilities for sharing information and experiences over ICT-based social networks. It has been suggested that these developments have the potential to 'empower' patients, reducing their dependence on providers and possibly improving their quality of care by increasing the volume and timeliness of diagnostic data and encouraging active self-management of their condition, for example through lifestyle changes. Perhaps more significantly, it is also seen by many economies with ageing populations as a way to contain high and ever rising healthcare costs.It has also been suggested that a move to greater self-management supported by expert networks and smart phone technology could improve the treatment of many millions of patients with chronic diseases in low and middle income economies that are also confronting the potential cost implications of epidemiological and demographic transitions, combined with the higher expectations of a more educated and knowledgeable population. There is now limited evidence that some fairly basic e- and mHealth interventions, for example in the areas of MNCH, malaria and HIV/AIDS can have a positive impact, even in resource-poor contexts. The aim here is to explore the extent to which further investment in technology could play a role in the development of an effective and affordable health sector strategy for at least some developing economies. It is suggested that the effectiveness of the approach may be highly dependent on the specific health conditions addressed, the nature of existing health systems and the overall socio-economic and cultural context.
Lucas, H. (2015). New technology and illness self-management: Potential relevance for resource-poor populations in Asia. Social Science and Medicine, 145, 145–153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.008