Mobile Health Technology Could Help Poor Urban Residents Access Health Services, Reduce Spending, Study Says

“Using mobile health technology to monitor patients in poor urban areas could improve residents’ access to health care while also reducing health care spending, a study [.pdf] conducted in a Rio de Janeiro hillside ‘favela’ slum suggested Wednesday,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. The New Cities Foundation’s “18-month Urban E-Health Project … provided [staff at a clinic in the slum] with a backpack with nine portable diagnostic tools to track blood pressure, glucose levels and other health measurements during weekly house calls on 100 elderly patients with chronic diseases and reduced mobility,” the news agency writes. The study found that “[s]uch quick, easy diagnoses were shown to help prevent more serious health problems down the line, cutting down on instances of heart failure, strokes and other ailments,” according to the AP, which adds, “The mobile treatment also led to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of savings to Brazil’s public health system by helping prevent serious ailments requiring costly treatment” (5/8). New Cities Foundation Executive Director Mathieu Lefevre said, “We should not wait for this kind of innovation to slowly trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid. … This study shows that we can and should start where better access to health care is needed most, and we should do so using the best available technology,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Warner, 5/8).

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