Discovering New Kazakhstan: Proposal for a Feasibility Study of mHealth Implementation

Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Asian Development Bank Vice President, makes a great observation: “Investors in rapidly growing enterprises are no longer satisfied with long and gradual processes for upgrading of infrastructure services. Instead, they are ‘leapfrogging’ such long transition periods through the quick implementation of new technologies, so as to faster achieve competitive positions in the world market.” Implementing smartphone technology performs exactly this type of “leapfrogging.” The government of Kazakhstan’s investment in the National Medical Holding proves it actively seeks medical technology investment. A medical communication system that integrated smartphones certainly fulfills the general strategic objective of the State-Run Program of Reforming and Development of Healthcare.

The World Health Organization explains mobile health services: “…(T)he system is a proprietary push delivery and review platform allowing remote review using the internet and cell phone network of EKG’s/medical images. Medical data is recorded at the point of care and then uploaded to the system’s server from which it is then delivered to a physician’s smartphone or PC. The transaction is fully traceable and secure.”3 Using smart phones eliminates slow, non- traceable systems such as faxes and paper mail, and offers concurrent modules for medical services, patient management, administration and finance. The mobile system can easily reach to any area that offers telecommunications access. The Embassy of Kazakhstan’s page on infrastructure indicates that telecommunications developments from 2006-2008 resulted in a great number of cellular subscribers: “87 per 100 citizens.” Therefore, the innovation fits with existing systems.

Ting Shih, the CEO of mobile health company ClickMedix has described to me over the phone several modules that could be useful in Kazakhstan. While in Kazakhstan I plan on researching steps to implementation. There are three solutions I want to explore:

  1. Chronic Disease Management: Kazakhstan’s biggest killers are chronic. Mobile health enables front-line health care workers to provide real time updates on patient care and screen for health risks, meeting the government of Kazakhstan’s priority for increased primary care responsibility.
  2. International Specialist Collaboration: The government of Kazakhstan has identified “international treatment standards” in diagnostics as a health priority. Mobile technologies enable fast transmission of patient diagnostic information to a specialist audience.
  3. Expansion of Training: International research has indicated that mobile health can assist in the training of resident physicians. Mobile health allows for international collaboration in training while building Kazakhstan’s internal Doctor capacity (Chang, et al., 2011), fitting with the government of Kazakhstan’s priority to increase medical training.

I will identify existing stakeholders and produce a feasibility study of implementing mobile health technologies to increase in-country physician and health staff training, extend medical reach to rural areas, and speedup overall healthcare delivery. I would like to meet with Kazakh physicians, including Dr. Dana Sharman of Kazakhstan’s Academy of Preventative Medicine whose work in rural provinces appears incredibly promising, government officials, and medical technology experts of Kazakhstan.

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