How Your Smartphone Can Save Your Life

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), commonly known as Doctors Without Borders, have been releasing medical guidelines for more than two decades to its field workers – field workers who often find themselves in extremely trying and stressful situations.

These guidelines are collaboratively developed with experienced medical practitioners and specialists in accordance with information from the World Health Organisation. Though these guidelines have been available to doctors all over the world for the past 25 years, MSF launched an application in late September 2017 to make these guidelines readily available, even in countries or situations where connectivity is extremely problematic.

The move to integrate their publication within the digital space, specifically across various platforms such as the iPhone’s App Store and Android friendly Google Play Store, shows an increasing usage of technology to solve a complex problem.

The application was developed specifically to improve remote access to the updated medical guidelines. The application includes the latest MSF guidelines and information as well as an option to download or view the content at any time including the ability to download low resolution files where network connectivity is an issue. The application, and its content, can even be used for onsite training.

The continuing rise of application usage across the market indicates that people are relying more and more on their smartphones for various functions. The time spent on health applications though only comes in at 1%, with games taking the lead at 26% of the time that an average user spent in an application.

A study from the Academic Unit of Psychology of the University of Southampton is just beginning to review the opportunities and challenges for smartphone applications in supporting health behaviour change. The study is inconclusive but it did raise a few interesting questions about application design and most interestingly, the challenges that the study participants raised:

  1. Can we keep using behaviour change applications for an extended period of time?
  2. Can we give users features that are desirable and effective without requiring unacceptable levels of effort?
  3. Can we provide accurate and timely information, feedback and advice without adverse effects on mood?
  4. Can we harness social media to make interventions engaging and provide social support in a way that users are willing to engage with?

In the emergency and critical medical fields, service providers are looking for solutions that assist members in dire circumstances. Accidents, crime and sudden illness all leave us in a state of panic. We often turn to our phones with no idea of who to call for help. Luckily there is an app that puts you in contact with a 24/7 Emergency Call Centre. The intuitive, easy to use, geo-location application meets the challenges of our technology-driven world. IER, a South African first, is free to use.

What applications do you use the most and more importantly what application do you absolutely refuse to delete? Let us know in the comments below.



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