Taking connected mobile-health diagnostics of infectious diseases to the field; Additionally, phone-based decision trees can assist less-well-trained users in decision making and can be helpful in diagnosis; monitoring or for data-gathering more generally. Furthermore, in disease surveillance; there is an urgent requirement to detect and intervene more rapidly in emerging epidemics (for example, Ebola or Zika), as well as for increased sentinel surveillance for existing ones.
The use of connected diagnostics and symptom-reporting apps, combined with standardized electronic collection of epidemiological and clinical data; has great potential to enhance the efficiency and speed of management of both epidemic and endemic infections, including the management of contacts where appropriate. The real-time reporting of diagnostic test results can enable this surveillance through the geospatial mapping of infections via geotagged test results or social network and internet search analysis; providing new tools for assimilation into outbreak control.
Burden Of HIV In Sub-Saharan Africa
As an example, the burden of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa remains unacceptably high. In areas, such as KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa; HIV prevalence in the population reaches over 30% overall; and is higher in women. This is despite a public health approach to HIV testing and anti-retro viral treatment for all. Reasons for the continuing high rate of new infections are manifold.
The high level of associated stigma leads to poor rates of testing, as well as poor attendance at treatment clinics. High population mobility impedes chronic disease care; as well as being a risk for infection. In this context, there is a need for a precision public health approach to HIV care. m Health provides the ideal framework in which to achieve this through targeted behavioral change (via interactive apps); care roadmaps (whether community-based or in the clinic) and connected diagnostic monitoring (HIV testing and viral load monitoring).
HIV Rapid Diagnostic Tests
Some examples of this are emerging. The HIVSmart App has been developed from the internet-based form described in Box to work with HIV rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to support patient linkage to care and retention in care worldwide. In addition; patients worried about a potential HIV infection might be more inclined to get tested if they could do it at home and avoid the stigma of attending a clinic.
The convergence of infectious disease diagnostics with mobile-phone-based connectivity provides opportunities to deliver potentially disruptive technologies to drive the development of health systems. These should increase access to testing, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases; while improving outbreak detection, disease surveillance and guiding a precision public health response.