Mobile health and big data
But it is on the patient side that mobile technologies have the biggest opportunity to make an impact. The 2016 FHI data finds that just 40% of Brazilian patients agree they have access to the information and resources needed to live healthily, for example. Smart phone apps to keep a check on health conditions and help to motivate effective dieting and more consistent exercise have been widely taken up as coverage has expanded across Brazil. The Brazilian Ministry of Communication’s decision to fund a program to encourage the development of public utility, including healthcare, apps has been warmly welcomed.
Elsewhere, connected care technologies – where big data might be used to better diagnose patients or spot potential issues before they turn into full-blown health concerns – are still very much in their infancy.
However, while the knowledge and use of such technologies is limited, doctors and patients alike understand that improved interconnectivity is important to improving healthcare in Brazil. In fact, it is a similar story in many other developing countries. According to the 2016 FHI almost three-quarters (73%) of healthcare professionals in emerging economies envisage a future where everybody owns smart devices, software and mobile apps to help manage their health. In developed countries, such as the US and the UK, only 44% think the same.
Brazil has come a long way in the last 20 years when its healthcare reforms led to the establishment of what is today the world’s largest public health system. As pockets of activity are already proving, a wider adoption of smart, connected technologies will continue to boost affordable access to healthcare in a country of people in need of help and support to change their lifestyles for the better.