Health

The power of technology in creating more equitable and accessible health care

There has never been a more important time for the medical industry to redefine what the future of patient health care looks like. While the last year and a half has tested the healthcare sector and pushed it beyond what we knew was possible, it’s remarkable to see what we’ve been able to achieve through the power of technology.

Curve Tomorrow is focused on using technology to create purpose-led healthcare solutions that help to improve people’s lives, with a mission to positively impact one billion lives in the next 25 years.

To do that, we take a human-centred approach to developing healthcare solutions that not only address the unique needs of our users, but help to remove barriers to equitable and accessible health care. Over the last 10 years we’ve built more than 20 patient engagement mobile apps; from helping to identify symptoms, to tracking patient outcomes, to collecting data for scientific research.

Making health care more equitable

Improving health care for Australia’s Indigenous communities is a national imperative. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that between 2018 and 2019 almost a third of Indigenous people did not have access to appropriate health services. This was mainly due to cultural barriers including language constraints, discrimination and cultural appropriateness.

Addressing deep-rooted social issues will play a major part in rectifying Aboriginal health inequality. Technology is not the sole fix, but integrating community-driven solutions through digital health care is a step in the right direction.

Lyfe Languages is an example of how we’re supporting to bridge the healthcare gap that Indigenous communities face. An award-winning digital app, Lyfe Languages supports the translation of complex medical terminology into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across Australia.

By building the solution on a dedicated platform for apps, we’ve been able to quickly develop and roll out the solution to help improve communication with Indigenous communities. The app benefits on both sides of the healthcare interaction. It enables both patients and medical practitioners to form stronger connections with each other and deliver better patient outcomes.

Ensuring accessible health care for all

The power of technology doesn’t stop there — it also provides a means to make health care accessible to all.

Take the act of listening. It’s a tendency that comes so naturally that most take for granted what barriers can be created in its absence. In fact, one in six Australians are affected by hearing loss, with approximately 30,000 deaf Auslan users with total hearing loss.

In partnership with Expression Australia and Deaf Services, we developed a system called Auslan Connections+ (AC+) to help those hard of hearing book recognised, trained and qualified Auslan interpreters. By building on the same dedicated platform for apps, we’ve been able to quickly deploy the app with 6000 deaf users currently using it to book appointments with one of the 600 available interpreters. As of December 2020, there have been more than 11,000 bookings.

Scaling digital health solutions

As an operator in the health sector, being able to scale the development of apps quickly means we also have the opportunity to scale impact.

Since we began, we’ve been working alongside leading researchers and institutions like the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to develop new digital health solutions. For example, we recently worked with the institute to support a project that sought to collect the data of 4000 healthcare workers as part of a vaccine trial looking at the effectiveness of the Bacille Calmette–Gueri vaccine against COVID-19.

By leveraging a pre-existing app we designed for user engagement and data collection, called WeGuide, we were able to work with the institute to deploy and scale the app in just two-and-a-half weeks, as opposed to a more typical six months. This enabled the institute to effectively run its trial by communicating with participants and prompting them to complete daily actions via the app.

The key to successfully scaling all of these apps has been by leveraging the power of Salesforce Heroku. The cloud-based platform meets the rigorous security standards used to protect user data in the health sector, enables ease of development, and provides the infrastructure to scale health solutions and make them accessible to everyone. Importantly, having the platform underpin all of our apps means our staff can focus their time and resources on delivering purpose-led healthcare solutions.

As the world continues to evolve, so too must our health care. Embracing the power of technology is a step in the right direction to creating and scaling purpose-driven solutions for truly inclusive health care.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Microgen

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