Mobile phones can worsen healthcare inequalities

Jan. 23, 2018

The fast spread of mobile phones across low-income countries like India can make it harder for poorer people without phones to access essential health services, new research has suggested.

The study by Dr. Marco J Haenssgen at the CABDyN Complexity Centre and the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at Oxford analyzed publicly available data from more than 12,000 households in rural India with sick family members in 2005 and 2012.

The study suggests that healthcare services expect more people to use a mobile phone, and that mobile phone users are more assertive when they compete for access to the few doctors and nurses in rural India. In areas where mobile phones become more common, people left behind have more difficulty accessing healthcare services.

The GSMA operates among others a platform to record new mobile health projects, which currently registers 1,081 such projects.

Dr. Haenssgen concludes: “This study uses only crude measures of healthcare access and mobile phone use, so this certainly is not the end of the story. But the findings add to a consistent picture of mobile phone use and healthcare access that has emerged over the past five years of research. While there is no reason to demonize mobile phones, we see again and again that their spread comes with problems as well as opportunities. We should therefore not conclude that now everyone really needs a mobile just to maintain their basic access to services—that would be tyranny.”

The full paper, “The struggle for digital inclusion: phones, healthcare, and marginalisation in rural India,” can be read in the journal World Development.

Medical Xpress has the full story

Sponsored Recommendations

Enhancing Remote Radiology: How Zero Trust Access Revolutionizes Healthcare Connectivity

This content details how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures high performance, compliance, and scalability, overcoming the limitations of traditional VPN solutions...

Spotlight on Artificial Intelligence

Unlock the potential of AI in our latest series. Discover how AI is revolutionizing clinical decision support, improving workflow efficiency, and transforming medical documentation...

Beyond the VPN: Zero Trust Access for a Healthcare Hybrid Work Environment

This whitepaper explores how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures secure, least privileged access to applications, meeting regulatory requirements and enhancing user...

Enhancing Remote Radiology: How Zero Trust Access Revolutionizes Healthcare Connectivity

This content details how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures high performance, compliance, and scalability, overcoming the limitations of traditional VPN solutions...