M-powered: Wireless health care (The Economist, 13th Nov)

Wireless health care

M-powered

The convergence of mobile telephony and health care is under way

Nov 11th 2010 | WASHINGTON, DC

BILL GATES seems to relish being the skunk at the garden party. The former boss of Microsoft, now a global-health philanthropist, was invited to address a big “m-health” conference in Washington, DC, this week. Some 2,400 proponents of delivering health services over wireless telecoms, from the private and public sectors, gathered to celebrate the dozens of pilot projects under way around the world.

Mr Gates, however, warned the participants not to celebrate too soon. Just because an m-health pilot scheme appears to work in some remote locale, he insisted, don’t “fool yourself” into thinking it really works unless it can be replicated at scale. Rafael Anta of the Inter-American Development Bank was even more cautious: “We know little about impact and nothing about business models.”

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