Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

What Can Technology such as Virtual Reality Do for Global Health?

November 19, 2020 · No Comments · Technology, Uncategorized

With the current pandemic, public health learning has been forced to be altered through technology. With these circumstances people have really approached the issue in unique ways. At the GoGlobal 360 event for GSU’s International Education Week, Dr. Kyle Anderson from Clemson University spoke about a project under development to bring study abroad experiences to students through virtual reality. As someone who is interested in studying abroad and hopes to participate in one this coming summer, this is an exciting idea. It could never really fully replace actually experiencing a new country and culture, but as we work with the hand given to us, it is a phenomenal solution. It also creates a flexibility and possibly an affordable solution for students who want to study abroad but are limited by finances. Another aspect is the creativity that can be used here. Creating a virtual reality space that reflects different time periods so students can really see the progress made in public and global health is another interesting idea. It could also be used in general for lessons creating empathy for the situations people lived in and really putting yourself in someone’s shoes in a virtual setting.

I see technology having the largest impact in environmental public health. For example, clean and renewable energy has become more accessible. In many areas of the world solar and wind energy is actually cheaper than fossil fuels. In America we have gone from 2001 with .5% of our energy being from renewable sources to now we are at 10%. At the rate we are going we can get to 23% by 2030 but honestly, I don’t think that’s enough. To combat the tremendous damage caused by fossil fuels we need to be pushing renewable energy across the world. We in America are not really taking advantage of this technology to the extent needed. Compared to other parts of the world we have been replacing our coal powered energy with natural gas instead of renewable sources. Europe for example has increased renewable energy use by 18% almost twice as much as we have reducing emissions and increasing air quality. One approach to this I think would be really resonating, would be larger establishments switching to renewable energy use and causing a sort of domino effect and creating a campaign that generates a lot of positive energy and awareness. Georgia State University would be a good candidate because it is in the heart of Atlanta while being very spread out. We also have a lot of community connections that can create a sort of net of support for this cause. One of the organizations to partner up for this would be Environment Georgia as their main initiative is renewable energy throughout the state of Georgia.

With these positive advancements there are significant barriers in place. The barriers of advancement in any venture are money and politics. Public health particularly requires a lot of collaborative effort and politicization of these public health issues hinders progress. The budget for Public health versus the healthcare system itself shows a lack of priority and the understanding of their inter-dependency. The lower budget that is split between so many different organizations and different parts of public health really limits the amount of change that can be made. Along with that the slow approval form chain of commands and the lack of authority given to public health professionals slows our overall progression. 

The incorporation of young unique talents to come up with innovative ideas to solve our public health problems is one of the greatest initiatives I’ve seen. Having engineering and designing competitions for the youth gives the younger generations voice in changing the world that will directly impact their future. They also have new and fresh ideas because of their different perspectives enabling them to think of problems creatively. Organizations like The Center for Health Experience and Design incentivize and encourage solutions to current public health problems from all ages. They are currently hosting a collaboration to solve problems associated with the pandemic and the home environment.

One of the more unique ways technology has affected public health is through monitoring and detection of outbreaks through web search locations. It is used for example to trace flu outbreaks when people search up symptoms. Being able to monitor these initial stages of outbreak gives more time for preparations and allows predictions to be made earlier than before. We can limit outbreaks and quickly mobilize efforts in containing and treatment services. This monitoring is also really helpful in public health research when looking at the efficacy of interventions and spotting possible issues or barriers quickly. This is really important as ever changing environments surrounding a deadly disease or physical environment changes.

In healthcare there has been more data consolidation technology like health information centers that is really helpful in creating more efficiency. This technology also supports the use of team approached healthcare by making sure all medical professionals receive the same information and make the greatest decisions for the patients. This technology also comes with barriers like data security, data quality and general ease in use. These are more logistical issues that deal with the interactions between healthcare professionals and the system rather than the system itself but this is crucial for effective usage. Technology has also advanced for patient doctor interaction without being face to face. We have begun virtual consultations both in physical and mental health which really expands our possibilities even after the pandemic is over. Completing tasks and consultations online when face to face is unnecessary could cut back on cost and time. It could be particularly useful to less mobile populations with limited access to transportation or those who have to make great effort to be mobile. Once again technology allows a flexibility that can really evolve the healthcare system.



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