The 2012 London Olympic Games is bringing together more than eight million residents, three million visitors and 14,000 athletes from more than 200 countries. That’s over 11 million people from different parts of the world expected in London. With all the excitement surrounding this 17-day event, people may forget about the health implications of mass gatherings like these. Ensuring that health risks are monitored, outbreaks are contained and people stay healthy will be no small feat. How can mobile health (mHealth) play a role?
With millions of foreigners circulating in and out of London over the next two weeks, this presents both an environment of increased health risks as well as an ideal setting for the use of mHealth tools, easily downloadable on any smartphone, to protect oneself. The arsenal of mHealth apps available on various App Stores can help treat and protect travellers against many health risks that can be more prevalent during mass gatherings.
Studies of mass gatherings have shown that top health risks include traveler’s diarrhea, foodborne and waterborne illness, and airborne disease. Public health officials have done a lot to prepare, with technology being at the core of their strategies. Enhanced surveillance systems have been deployed for the Games that will provide the first indication of emerging infections in the communities and in hospitals, according to Brian McCloskey, the London director of the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Bio.Diaspora, a powerful surveillance tool also being implemented by organizers, tracks infectious diseases from the sale of airline tickets by using anonymous traveller information, such as point of departure and destination from airports around the world, to predict when and where outbreaks may occur. The United States Olympic Committee will be using electronic medical records rather than paper charts to manage care for more than 700 athletes at the summer games. And hospitals have implemented telemedicine programs ahead of the Olympics, including Queen Victoria Hospital. Combining mHealth with these public health efforts could help protect the health of both spectators and athletes.
So which mHealth apps should you download? Here are 3 robust apps that are ideal for the Olympics that can help treat and protect you from falling sick while you travel.
1. UniversalDoctor Speaker (iOS – iPhone/iPad, Web App)
UniversalDoctor Speaker is a multi-language iPhone/iPad app developed by doctors with hundreds of medical questions & explanations in several languages, in both text and audio format, to ease communication between patients and healthcare professionals. Currently supports 12 languages, with Russian and Romanian available since monday, and now free for a limited time. You can try the Web App with thousands of questions in UniversalDoctor Project.
2. DestinationDoc (iOS – iPhone)
Destination Doc provides international travellers with a trusted curated list of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies based on the proprietary algorithm developed by an internal team of physicians. Developed for the London Olympics with the aim of expanding to 20 top destination cities in 6-9 months.
3. iTriage (iOS – iPhone/iPad, Android, Web App)
Created by 2 ER doctors, iTriage is a trusted healthcare resource that allows individuals to conveniently access healthcare information to learn about the cause of their symptoms and conditions, and quickly find the closest medical care.
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