Primary Care in Developing Countries
The lives of 6 million children could be saved globally each year through more effective primary care. However, half of the world’s population cannot access essential health services. In fact, 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their income on health expenses for themselves or a family member which can push them further into poverty.

Blockchain Technology and Primary Care Services

Despite these overwhelming statistics, blockchain technology is beginning to transform the health care sector in Europe and Africa through virtual health assistance. The European Commission has launched CareAi in June 2018, which is a digital computer system that uses a patient’s blood sample to quickly diagnose diseases without the presence of a physical doctor.

Harvard University Chemistry Professor George Whiteside created the machine to feature a small finger prick device. The patient experiences a quick poke from a sterilized needle, then places their fingerprint onto a chip that is inserted into the machine. The intelligent CareAi system has the ability to diagnose diseases like typhoid fever, malaria and tuberculosis in seconds and quickly prints results, which directs ill patients to nearby pharmacies for medicine. The machine’s intelligence is expected to evolve over time and could even surpass human proficiency in 2-3 years.

CareAi ensures that all patient information and results are kept anonymous so it will be able to help undocumented migrants and populations secluded from the health care system who fear deportation. However, if the government wishes to access data for policy purposes, it will pay participating healthcare NGOs and machine maintenance costs. CareAi machines will be placed in public places such as mosques, churches and markets so people who lack primary care in developing countries will be able to benefit.

CareAi Targets the Most Vulnerable Groups

Creators of this new invention are targeting refugee camps in Europe and are giving specific attention to India which only has one doctor for every 921 people as well as Africa. According to the World Health Organization, across the globe, 50 percent of the children under age five who die of pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculous and malaria each year, are from Africa. CareAi will allow easy access and accurate diagnoses to these people who are in quick and desperate need of health results.

Looking Forward

AI projects are taking place all over the world and opening up exciting possibilities in the not so distant future. In a piece titled, 10 Promising AI Applications in Health Care, Harvard Business Review highlights an AI-powered nurse avatar called “Molly” which is being used to “interact with patients, ask them questions about their health, assess their symptoms, and direct them to the most effective care setting”.

In addition, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is using AI processes to predict which patients will be no-shows and to reduce readmission rates. Artificial intelligence will continue to change the way we practice medicine and will open up new diagnostic possibilities for primary care in developing countries.

– Grace Klein
Photo: Pixabay