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Information Access – An Interesting Development

I came across this WHO initiative to provide a portable library in a single case – there are two versions, one for emergency situations, one for the more longstanding healthcare situation.

While these are definitely useful ideas (and on balance cost-decent, at around $2000/trunk), it strikes me as a solution firmly grounded in the 20th century. As I’ve argued elsewhere, the advent of the internet and smartphones means that searchable databases and point-of-care information systems akin to UpToDate or DynaMed are increasingly what people are using in high-resource settings, and what people in low-resource settings will (perhaps should) want.  The economics of scale then feasible are quite evident – no longer do you need to send a separate $2000 trunk to each regional center, all you need to do is keep up the central database.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for such approaches to become favored. I do believe they will, sooner or later – and hopefully sooner.

Addendum: this call for action from the organization Health Information for All works nicely with my own (they focus on improved access to mobile health information for all)


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