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Digital-Payment Systems Could Revolutionize Health Care

As managing medical conditions becomes increasingly more difficult in rural areas, technological advances could go a long way in improving access and patient care. The first step toward a new high-tech age in health-care delivery is the widespread adoption of digital-payment systems.

KARACHI – The year is 2025. A woman with diabetes living in a rural area, where there is a shortage of health-care workers, must manage her condition. To whom or what does she turn? Her smartphone. In just two years, the delivery of health care – and many other services – could look very different than it does today.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things could enable this woman to access health care just by pressing a few buttons. A wearable sticker could use sweat to monitor her blood glucose levels. That data would then be sent by a microchip in her phone to her blockchain-secured electronic health record in the cloud. She could then order her insulin through Amazon, to be delivered to her doorstep by a drone, or request that her local pharmacy 3D print her metformin pills and verify their authenticity via text message.

To screen for diabetic retinopathy, which damages the eye and can cause blindness if untreated, she could also use her smartphone to take her own retinal image, selfie-style. An AI algorithm would analyze it and, if the findings were abnormal, book an appointment with a doctor. It could even order an Uber to take her there, deducting the cost from her mobile wallet. Before the woman even arrived at the office, the doctor could test the laser therapy on her digital twin to determine which treatment works best.