At the Canadian Imagine Cup, two students from McGill university try to address the challenge of providing healthcare in rural areas using a Windows Phone application, the cloud, and a Windows 8 application. Their solution earned them 3rd place at the Canadian Imagine Cup Finals.
India is one of the world’s largest countries, home to over a billion people. It is also one of the poorest countries, over 72% of the population live in villages. Rural India has very poor healthcare, 43$ have no access to healthcare. 70% have no resident doctor and 80% of medical workers are unqualified.
Connect doctors and patients, provide an easy way for patients to express their symptoms and provide an infrastructure for doctors to diagnose rural patients and recommend appropriate actions.
Windows Phone, Windows 8 and SQL Azure
What did they do?
Abhijeet Kalyan and Shravan Narayan from McGill university came up with project Neem, a rural healthcare solution. The solution revolves around a village healthcare worker. You find someone in the village who is respected in the community, and is computer literate to act as the village healthcare worker. You provide them with some very basic medical training and a Windows Phone. Using the Windows Phone they can scan the national id card of a patient. Any stored information about the patient is retrieved. The village healthcare worker has enough training to take a temperature, check blood sugar levels, check a pulse or blood pressure. These vitals can be recorded in the phone application. The health care worker can also record any particular symptoms the patient reports by tapping the area of the body and selecting the symptoms
The patient data is stored in SQL Azure and then accessed by doctors in the city through a Windows 8 application. The doctors can review the patients symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment. With the Skype application on Windows Phone, the team is also considering adding a Skype option for direct patient to doctor or doctor to healthcare worker interaction.
Shravan and Abhijeet also see a bigger picture of using the data generated from the application to help public health organizations, governments and aid agencies. A desktop data analytics application could help interpret the data and identify trends while still keeping patient information anonymous. Perhaps helping agencies identify what diseases are diagnosed in different regions.
Rural healthcare isn’t just a challenge in India, this is a challenge we face in Canada as well, as many doctors feel they will have a higher quality of life setting up practice in the city leaving small towns woefully short of desperately needed medical services. Hopefully the work done by these students will be the beginning of a solution.