A medal for mobile medicine?

Rudy Ramos
Project Manager for the Technical Content Marketing team
A medal for mobile medicine?
Medical services the world over are coming under great pressure to deliver high-quality healthcare and, at the same time control costs. Alongside this, patients are becoming far more involved in their wellbeing as well as wanting a high standard of healthcare with even greater convenience than before. As people are more mobile these days, mobile healthcare (mHealth) avoids the need to visit the doctor’s office and allows patients to provide health data to providers, as well as receive care, anywhere on the planet.

Apart from the underlying technology in each of the devices – which is advancing rapidly - the ‘connected’ aspect of mobile health brings huge benefits to healthcare providers, giving the ability to spot trends and ‘hot spots’ much more efficiently and rapidly than before.

One example of this is the Olympic games, which have just taken place in South Korea. As tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of athletes converge from the four corners of the planet, the potential for outbreaks of disease is enormous. In fact, health scares at the Olympics are nothing new with flu affecting the games in Nagano (1998) and Beijing (2008). Moreover, while the expected Swine Flu did not hit the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, measles was reported in British Columbia for the first time in years – this was eventually traced to two visitors to the games, one from China and the other from Italy.

Health is a critical issue for the competitors. While a simple case of flu is not severe, if it hits at the wrong time it can impair their performance and negate many years of training and preparation, often costing them a medal.

At this year’s games in PyeongChang the International Olympics Committee implemented a new advanced mHealth analytics solution in conjunction with GE Healthcare that is also planned to be used at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

The Athlete Management System (AMS) integrates valuable medical information with venue, sport and training data to give clinicians a comprehensive overview allowing them to make rapid and informed treatment decisions if required. Included in the information gathered are athlete’s medical histories, imaging scans, patient vital statistics and more, allowing real-time and highly personalized dashboards to be created.

Through analysis of the data and incidences of injury or illness, the tool can identify ‘hot spots’ such as injuries that often occur in a particular area of a course, or an outbreak of flu or another disease in a particular hotel. Through automated analysis of the data, issues at the PyeongChang games can be addressed rapidly and the data can be used for future games to design courses to be safer as well as avoiding situations that have been shown to promote the spread of disease.

The cloud-based tool is highly secured and fully mobile allowing healthcare professionals access anywhere at any time to enter or retrieve data. By including data from spectators (which can be gathered in a clinic, hotel room or even beside the course) medical staff and event organizers can spot potential disease outbreaks in the very early stages and take appropriate action, providing a healthier environment for everyone.

The AMS is another example of how the ‘connected’ nature of today’s mHealth can provide more effective and efficient healthcare to everyone, even when they are thousands of miles from home. More than this, by ‘connecting the dots’, outbreak management and prevention is far more effective than before, and trend analysis will contribute to greater health and wellbeing in the future.

Which athletes at this year’s games will owe their medals (at least in part) to the mobile mHealth revolution?

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