As India is picking up speed on the information-Internet highway, the devices they use for accessing the web are also changing. How is healthcare keeping up? The information technology revolution has followed a serendipitous path. What started with Personal Computers (P.C), then moved to a lighter mobile version called a Laptop as more people started using them to perform more tasks. Somewhere along the way a new breed of miniature laptops called Notebooks also appeared. All of these were geared towards generation and consumption of content.
Soon we realized that there is a vast proportion of our population which is not interested in heavy computing, but just wants an easy way to access all the information already out there. This led to the profusion of smaller, hand held digital devices. These devices let users feed in data and media, as well as consume them without limiting mobility. This new breed of devices, like Smartphones and Tablets are booming in India. More and More people are using them to access the internet and do all the things that they previously needed a computer to do. Of close to 900 million mobile connections in India, Smartphones account for 10% of Indian mobile devices. Smartphone sales tripled in Q2 2013 compared to 2012. Tablet sales are zooming up by 400% annually! India is already the third largest market in the world for Smartphones.
Here is some data from studies regarding mobile behavior in India:
- The “India Goes Digital’ report (pdf) predicts Mobile broadband will be the primary driver of overall Internet penetration in India
There is just no getting away from the fact that the Smartphone and Tablets are going to be the leader among all internet access devices soon.
About 15% of Indian physicians consider a Smartphone as essential for their profession, , (link) , though generally Physicians feel that Tablets are more useful as the mobile device of choice for professional purposes. The use of P.Cs now has been consigned mainly to government departments and bureaucrats.
The best possible use of such mobile devices in medicine is in the form of Electronic Health Records. Such mobile devices suitably geared up can make life a lot easier for doctors and patients alike. Sadly, there have been early teething problems but things may be smoothing out soon.
The Government of India has recently come out with EHR guidelines which will enable a uniform standard of record keeping so as to enable interoperability among various hospital data systems and medical devices. The legal status of EMRs in India was a hotly debated topic among medical informatics professionals, but a brighter end is surely in sight.