Thomas A. McKinley ’06 and Hannah Weil McKinley Summer Fellowship Recipient
Initially, my goal for the project was to determine how MoSoNex social media technology and similar media and communication technologies can be used to provide healthcare to rural India. I was then planning on actually implementing the technology in rural communities as a way to empower and serve the local villagers. However, after a mere few weeks in India I faced my biggest challenges and quickly saw that this was not going to be completely feasible given the poor infrastructure and technological lag. Given the terrible internet connectivity in rural India, it was very difficult to get the technology to work seamlessly in these limited-resource settings. In order to overcome this challenge I borrowed an internet hotspot device that is supposed to provide internet access in remote areas. However, I soon learned that 3G has just reached India and is virtually non-existent in rural areas and so this device was worthless. In order to sidestep this barrier I created a presentation with embedded videos on how this technology currently works in the U.S. and how it will work perhaps in a few years when 3G becomes more pervasive in India. During the course of my internship I demonstrated the actual technology in areas with internet connectivity and used the presentation in areas that lacked internet connectivity.
Regardless of these challenges, I was able to accomplish many of my project’s major goals. First, I succeeded in educating select rural communities about the potential for MoSoNex social media technology and similar m-Health (mobile Health) technologies to improve their access to healthcare and health information by allowing them to send images of medical conditions via a phone to an urban hospital for diagnosis. I accomplished this by working with a local ayurvedic doctor to set up free medical camps that were held at three different rural villages in India. At these camps free medicines and medical checkups were provided as an incentive for local participation and I was able to give my presentation on the MoSoNex technology. During these camps I taught the villagers how to use the technology and explained to them how it could potentially be used to seek medical care and health information from urban doctors and hospitals. I showed them how it would be possible for doctors to stream health videos onto their local TV as well. During these medical camps I requested for feedback on the feasibility of using this technology given their cultural beliefs, daily lifestyles, literacy levels, and current healthcare needs. It was a great learning experience for the villagers since they not felt empowered by learning how to use a new technology, but they were enthusiastic to learn about the new emerging opportunities to seek healthcare.
- Date September 1, 2011
- Tags 2011, Asia, Education, Healthcare, McKinley, Social Service