Josh Nesbit was a premed, undergraduate student at Stanford University when he first traveled to rural Malawi in southeastern Africa. While there, he witnessed patients walk more than 50 miles just to see a doctor. But he also noticed that his cell phone got better reception there than it did in California. Nesbit resolved that he would use that insight to fundamentally improve healthcare in Africa, and in developing nations around the world. The result of that commitment is Medic Mobile, the organization he co-founded after returning to the United States in 2009.
Connecting to Better Health by Cell Phone
Medic Mobile is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to build mobile and web tools to help healthcare workers deliver better quality healthcare for their patients living in highly rural and remote locations. Medic Mobile develops these tools to work on the simplest of mobile technologies: the cheap cell phones that are widely available even in the poorest countries of the developing world. Medic Mobile’s tools are being used today in 23 countries, by more than 9,000 healthcare workers caring for more than five million people living in these developing regions.
In many of these countries, the doctor to patient ratio is often upwards of 1:100,000. But cell phones, and cell phone towers, are practically ubiquitous. Health workers use Medic Mobile apps installed on cell phones to register every pregnancy, track disease outbreaks, maintain inventory of essential medicines, and communicate with each other and with patients, who are often living in remote villages far from the nearest urban center or clinic.
Improving Maternal and Infant Health
For pregnant women—who are often forced to walk 20 to 50 miles or more over rough terrain to see a doctor—the situation is particularly dire. Infant mortality rates are high, and far too many women are unable to give birth in a healthcare facility. Medic Mobile, using a mobile network virtualized by VMware, addresses this situation directly. It enables community healthcare workers to register pregnancies remotely, track the progress of that pregnancy, communicate reminders about prenatal care and visits to the clinic, and monitor birth outcomes.
These photos reveal more about how Medic Mobile, using a mobile network powered by VMware, helps bring better quality healthcare to remote villages in Uganda.
Medic Mobile and VMware: Working Together to Build Better Tools
The Medic Mobile solution is Linux-based and runs on VMware Player. It allows the healthcare workers to collect and transmit patient information wirelessly to the central clinic using basic cell phones. The result dramatically reduces travel time and costs while improving the quality of healthcare delivery.
VMware Take 3 (T3) engineers and R&D volunteers also helped Medic Mobile develop a virtual appliance to run the organization’s free, scalable software toolkit. Combining messaging, data collection, and analytics, VMware enables the Medic Mobile software kit to be used in almost any kind of environment, support any language, and work with or without internet connectivity, locally or in the cloud. Medic Mobile also uses VMware VIX to automate the delivery of its healthcare apps where internet connectivity makes that possible and affordable for the community healthcare workers and their organizations.
Josh Nesbit likes to ask, “Who is a health worker?” He then answers his own question by saying, “Anyone working together to solve a problem.” He challenges people and organizations the world over to join with him and Medic Mobile to help solve the problem of healthcare in the world’s developing regions. “It’s our job to break that stubborn link,” he says, “between being poor and having poor health.”
VMware is proud to partner with Medic Mobile to help it deliver on its mission to bring better quality healthcare to those who are most in need.