An App a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

130619-dickey-bw0423-medical-tease
06/19/13
In the Magazine
Barry Malone/Reuters

EARLY LAST year Okari Denzil, a nurse practitioner in rural Kenya, got his hands on an iPod Touch. A program called Health eVillages had loaded it up with Skyscape’s medical-resources app, and suddenly Denzil had shelves full of up-to-date information literally in the palm of his hand. He needed it almost immediately: the Lwala Community Alliance clinic where he worked had just admitted a pregnant woman whose baby was at risk for asphyxiating at birth. Later that night she went into labor, and thanks to what he’d learned from his reference sources, Denzil was able to perform effective neonatal resuscitation on her baby boy. Health eVillages has launched similar projects in Haiti, Uganda, China, and rural Louisiana—yes, that’s right, in the United States—to bring vital medical information, drug-interaction guides, and decision tools to communities that otherwise would have little or no access. As for Denzil, he now has an iPad. (The software works on Android and BlackBerry devices, too.) And he uses it not only to help find medical solutions but also to help educate villagers in a region where one in five people is HIV-positive. “It’s a doctor, it’s a nurse, it’s a public-health officer in my bag,” he said.

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