When I joined up with a small group of compassionate physicians to help establish the Life is Great Foundation, my goals were humble – provide a means for the generous medical professionals volunteering to travel and serve a more efficient means to plan, treat, and manage the health of patients through software. I am not a physician, but my company provides software solutions to the organizations that provide care, so with a background in building applications like Electronic Medical Records, I believed my contribution could help Life is Great serve more people while also making the work easier for volunteers.
What I did not realize at the time was how passionate I would become about the potential for software – and especially mobile applications – to address challenges those in the humanitarian medical volunteering world faced every day, including a lack of connectivity in many locations – though with more investment in broadband, including satellite broadband, slowly we are starting to see more and more connectivity in rural communities, as well as a greater ability to bring connectivity to areas hit hard by natural disasters or epidemics including the Ebola Virus.
For the last several years, my team at ITON and I have become so fascinated with the potential of simple – easy to learn – foolproof to use – secure applications that we have built Triage to Discharge (T2D) and have rolled this online/offline mobile application out in countries including the Philippines, Dominican Republic and most recently India, my home country.
While we are still in the early adoption state, the successes have been very inspiring, whether we are using the application to register women for cervical cancer screenings, children who have in many cases never been seen by a doctor, and people who may be suffering silently from heart conditions that, with early detection and treatment, can improve and lengthen lives.
Today, LIG and its non-profit partners and corporate sponsors envision a global health network, driven by motivated healthcare professionals who are committed to the idea that all human beings deserve quality care, and are equally committed to spend their time and resources delivering that care.
Following natural disasters, delivery of health services requires extremely rapid deployment of key personnel to provide critical care under the most challenging circumstances to a high density of patients. Providers often have to deliver care the day they land, overcoming language and cultural barriers quickly to provide life-saving care. Working together, LIG’s team and extended team recognized the need for an IT infrastructure that provides and adapts to challenging needs of unique locations globally, and create the T2D solution in order to:
Provide a free tool that can be deployed on the day of landing
Provide a Triage protocol that is rapid, and capable of handling up to 1,000 patients per day with even a handful of volunteers
Include capabilities that are flexible, dynamic, can support multiple sites, and can document critical care including surgeries
Include multilingual features
Manage inventory of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
Enable live image capture within the encounter and provide required reporting
Provide infrastructure for measurable milestones
So many billions of dollars are being spent developing information technologies to improve the experience and economics of care in the developed world. Are we dreaming too big when we develop applications that can be downloaded and used on any tablet or smartphone, which collect information and securely store it and make it available respecting the privacy of every individual – within moments when disasters strike? Are we dreaming too big to imagine that the work we are doing to make humanitarian healthcare better and more continuous with the volunteer healthcare professionals able to check back with patients virtually, even after they’ve completed their mission? And are we dreaming too big to believe that the entire community of non-profit organizations who face similar challenges to those we’ve identified at Life Is Great will someday leverage the application we’ve begun to successfully test and wish to scale so literally millions of people can benefit, making the task of medical volunteerism more effective, more easily managed and more satisfying? There is a saying that “If you cannot dream it, you cannot do it.” We have dreamed and we are doing, and we are sharing our story with as many people as we believe can benefit from it.
I look forward to hearing from others, and writing about and sharing stories from other mobile broadband and software entrepreneurs who, like me and my team, come to the realization that the work we do, the hours we put in, the hurdles we face – ultimately are opportunities to contribute to the betterment of our world. I am grateful every day for being able to do my part, lead my team in doing their part, and contributing to the Life is Great organization as we continue to never give up on making things better, despite the odds.