Monday, 21 August 2017

Keep calm and leave the mobile for a while

Josep Mª Monguet

The trade fairs tend to present the technological innovations somewhat passed by the commercial magic, which puts at risk the necessary objectivity to evaluate what they will actually contribute. This is aggravated if we consider that technology is nowadays advancing much faster than human capabilities. As technological innovation progresses exponentially, the adaptive and changing capacity of individuals and organizations is logarithmic.

In general, to take advantage of the new options that technology offers, you have to know where you want to go and what to do to get there; the problem is that we just grope. The good news, however, and the fair is a good exponent, is that so many of us are doing it that the possibilities for progress don’t stop multiplying. Remember Edison when he said he had discovered 10,000 ways of not making a light bulb.

How many scientific or technical articles that explain failures have you read? Surely very few, but, on the other hand for each innovative initiative, there are many more mistakes and many more failures that makes me doubt, simply for a very inverse reason, what is reflected in literature. For this reason I have been drawn to a recent article in JAMA Psychiatry, "An Adjuvant Role for Mobile Health in Psychiatry". It’s a short text that outlines the benefits and risks of mobile apps associated with mental health that, among others, quotes the case of the British Samaritans foundation oriented at mental health. In late 2014, the Samaritans launched a mobile application to help people with severe emotional distress. The application tracked the patient's social networks to identify signs of depression or suicide and be alerted in time. Apparently, it was a good idea, aimed at generating a safety net around the patient. Surprisingly for the promoters, the application generated a stir on issues related to privacy and patient vulnerability. The application was closed nine days after its launch. I think that it’s a pity that the results of innovations are not published more frequently when they are not satisfactory, because we can learn as much or even more from errors than from successes.

Making the simple exercise of reviewing the literature on "Mobile Health" referenced in the first two months of 2016 in Google Scholar, you can identify some of the relevant points for the opportunities for mobility in health to materialize:
  • Understand that you have to make tests with great uncertainty and that you must work in a context of mixed innovation: research - design - technology.
  • Make integral approaches health - social environment - city - work. Monitoring real-time air pollution as a health resource is a good example.
  • Learn to communicate with new media. If now there are already difficulties of communication (heath literacy) you can think that mobility can still make it worse.
  • Promote more efficient behaviour in the use of mobile devices; Among others, the impact on students has been analyzed and it has been found that they negatively affects academic performance; we’ll see what will happen in the medium term.
  • Technology must become transparent to people with limitations or who can not operate applications and devices for various reasons.
We have a lot to improve and we have to work with patients as it’s necessary to ensure that the new value proposals are real.

No comments:

Post a Comment