The number of smartphone users in Nigeria is predicted to rise from 34 million to 140 million within the next 4 years according to a study. However while most users in the country already know about using their smartphone for social media interactions, reading news and accessing local information and services, relatively few know about using it to look after their health and that of their loved ones.
Enumerated in this article are some of the ways you can use your smartphone to look after your health.
- Access virtual medical consultation
Did you know that at the click of a button, you can now have access to thousands of medical doctors and other healthcare professionals who are available to offer you confidential medical consultation and even diagnosis remotely through your smartphone?
Telemedicine, the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance is one of the ways most Nigerians are unaware they can utilise their phone to access quality and affordable healthcare from any location.
With Telemedicine, you can pay as little as N3,000 for a 15 – 30 minutes session with a medical practitioner anywhere in Nigeria.
Think of the convenience and the waiting time eliminated by being able to connect instantly with a doctor for video medical consultation or routine follow up from your home or workplace?
What’s more, imagine being able to participate in a video teleconference with your doctor and another doctor for second medical opinion? Imagine having a telemedicine app that is able to connect you with your aged parents living far away from you and with their doctor or caregiver enabling you to receive regular care updates, all from your phone?
- 2. Store and Access Your Health Records
Your medical records are vital to receiving safe and continuous care. A widespread problem in Nigeria is that patient medical records are often paper-based sitting with different healthcare providers and cannot be readily accessed at the point of care when patients move from one provider to another.
With more providers in the country now utilizing electronic medical records, you can now subscribe to Personal Health Records (PHR) apps on your phone. These apps allow you to keep digital copies of your own medical records, access them on demand and share them with your authorised caregivers in any part of the world.
With your phone, you can securely keep copies of your vaccination records, test results and images, referral letters, discharge letters, prescriptions, allergies, medical history, children’s birth certificates and other essential health information.
- 3. Book Clinic Appointments and Medical Tests
Yes you need to see a physiotherapist urgently or a specialist doctor like an Oncologist or a Gynaecologist or you need to undergo a particular diagnostic test but you don’t know where and how to find one to book an appointment quickly.
This is where your smartphone comes in handy. There is a growing number of medical apps that allow you not only to find thousands of healthcare providers across Nigeria but also to enable you book instant appointment with them for a time that suits you.
Going are the days when you or your doctor will need to keep calling around from one hospital to another to find where, how and when you can secure an appointment with a healthcare professional or do a test.
Not only that, these medical apps allow you to compare fees from various providers and to determine whether you can pay with your health insurance policy or by out-of-pocket alone.
- 4. Monitor Your Health and Vital Signs
The good news is that health is finally meeting technology in Nigeria. There are now thousands of wearable medical devices in the forms of smartwatches, bracelets and other portable gadgets that can help you monitor own health and vital signs at all times.
From tracking your calories burned, steps walked, sleep pattern to monitoring your BP, pulse, respiratory rate among others, these devices send data to apps on your phone generating health intelligence easy for you to understand and act upon readily.
The beauty of this is that you are not waiting to fall sick first before you start paying attention to your health. Rather you are being proactive and living by the age long maxim that health is wealth. This is about preventive healthcare and as always, prevention is better and cheaper than cure.
- 5. Participate in Vibrant Online Health Communities
As Aristotle said, ‘Man is a social animal’. This holds true whether online or offline. Today, there are numerous online health communities you can join from your phone where you can ask health-related questions from healthcare professionals as well as to interact with other members. Asking questions from verified healthcare professionals in particular is a far better approach than making health decisions based on conspiracies and widespread misinformation.
These online health communities allow you to share your health experiences with other members. For whatever you are going through, you can be assured that there are other people also going through a similar experience or who have gone it through it before.
Imagine as a woman being told by your doctor that you have a diagnosis of breast cancer. So many thoughts, fears and emotions will naturally run through your mind. But also imagine being part of a community where you can share this experience with other women whose breast cancer perhaps is at early stage or with those who have recently undergone mastectomy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy or better still those who have survived the cancer for 2, 5 or 10 years or more with or without a recurrence.
These communities ensure you are not walking your health journey alone. They offer psycho-social support to members and are often well moderated to minimise abuse and disruption.
Do you think there are other ways Nigerians can use their smartphone to take of their health? Share thoughts by leaving a comment below.
www.mymedicalbank.com is Nigeria’s no.1 digital platform that connects consumers with healthcare providers, health information and their health records from their smartphone. For enquiries, go to www.mymedicalbank.com/contact.