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Traditional Methods for Calling Emergency Services is Still the Best Option

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911-emergencyThe smartphone’s increasing popularity demands that more applications feature international communication. Skype offers cheap international voice calling, text messaging, and group video calling; however, Skype and its fellow applications do not allow emergency calling for several reasons. Regular phone calls and SMS text messages are more expensive than their alternatives, but they still have something that their competitors do not: the ability to reach anyone in the world. Many of the phone applications out there right now are dependent on user-to-user connections. In the event of an emergency, it is still recommended to use the more traditional method of making a phone call to the authorities.

Why Skype limits emergency calling
Skype limits emergency calling because power failure, battery failure, or internet disconnection would disrupt your emergency call. Skype suggests that users keep a mobile phone with them at all times to alleviate any problems that may arise when using their products. Internet calls may also not get the same priority as a normal mobile phone call. In the event of an emergency, every second counts, so it is important that an emergency call gets the attention it deserves.

By not allowing emergency calling through their services, Skype protects themselves against lawsuits from those who claim that Skype did not handle their emergency call correctly. Skype does not guarantee a 100% success rate, so it is important to not use their software for making emergency calls.

In a recent trend, private business exchanges (PBX) are using internet programs to save on costs. Hosted PBX allows businesses to make calls routed via internet, and a PBX platform performs the calls at a fraction of the cost. Even with this type of service, it is still recommended that if an emergency were to arise, a traditional phone call is the superior option.

Viber
Viber is a smartphone application growing in popularity, boasting over 200 million users. Through Viber, users can call, text, and send files for free. One of the good things about this service is that calls between Viber users are free. Viber also states that it has extremely high sound quality; however, like Skype, it is not suggested that you make emergency calls through this service.

WhatsApp
Text messaging generates extremely high amounts of revenue for mobile service providers through expensive text messaging packages and overage fees; however, there is an alternative to spending a lot of money on phone bills for text messages. WhatsApp allows users to type in their phone number and instantly start texting with other WhatsApp users. One of the benefits of this app is its simplicity compared to other apps and software. It is also very cheap – free for the first year and then roughly $2 per year after that. Considering how expensive phone bills are per month, this seems like a cost-effective alternative.

MXit
Mxit is a predecessor of WhatsApp; the application has a similar user size but struggles with monetizing their service. The service boasts 750,000,000 messages are sent through their app. MXit also struggles from a large file size when compared to other apps like WhatsApp and Skype. Apps like MXit and WhatsApp are providing alternatives to SMS users.

As technology and apps continue to improve there will be alternatives to a standard phone call through your phone, but as of right now there is only one way to make emergency phone calls. A traditional phone call will guarantee the quickest and most direct response from the authorities.

Photo Courtesy of Payphone.com

Ashley Williamson, a freelance writer and a Game of Thrones enthusiast.

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Global

Code Therapy – A Mental Health and Technology Documentary

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Code Therapy is a short documentary about how technology is changing the way mental health services are delivered.

Mental illness, such as depression, is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. 1 in 4 adults in the United States experiences some type of mental illness every year, yet over 100 million people across the nation lack access to sufficient mental health services. In countries with less developed healthcare systems, the situation is even more troubling.

Code Therapy is a documentary short about the application of digital technology in the field of mental health. Behavioral intervention technologies, such as online programs and apps that teach evidence-based therapy skills have the potential to make mental health support more accessible and affordable. Websites and social media platforms provide another way to disseminate mental health information, particular to an increasingly connected generation of millennials around the globe.

Speaking on the barriers to receiving treatment and the benefits and limitations of emerging technologies in this space are entrepreneurs, researchers and mental health providers including:

  • Alejandro Foung, Co-Founder of Lantern
  • Rob Morris, Co-Founder of Koko
  • Steve Schueller, Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Faculty Member at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technology
  • Jen Hyatt, CEO of Big White Wall

The film is narrated by Carl O’Reilly, a London-based architect, mental health advocate and author of the new book Defeating Depression, available on Amazon.

Code Therapy was filmed in the US and UK in 2016 and has since screened at festivals in England, Ireland, India and the United States.  We were honored to be awarded Best Documentary at the 2016 Dublin International Short Film and Music Festival and has received commendation and nominations at other festivals around the globe.

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Mental Health

Telemedicine: Aims Toward Convenience and Accessibility of Modern Treatment

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Telemedicine is the use of information technology and telecommunication devices to provide a healthcare remotely. It is intended to solve distance barriers, improve access to quality healthcare, and designed to save lives in emergency and critical situations.

Telemedicine began when astronauts first went into space. The early spacecraft had a telemedicine technology to keep track of the astronaut’s health. Succeeding milestones boost the use of telemedicine in the healthcare.

Brief History of Telemedicine

The birth of telecommunication paves the way to the inception of telemedicine. Few hospitals started experimenting with telemedicine about fifty years ago to reach patients in far-flung areas.  It started in the U.S. as a way to resolve the shortages of the physicians.

Telemedicine has tremendously changed. Due to a substantial advancement in technology, it became an integrated service in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. During emergencies, it is used to provide patient health records and medical consultation without delay.

At present, people around the world are using telemedicine to provide quality healthcare or help a patient with mobility problems consult a physician from home. It was also used to reach urban populations with shortages of physicians. Currently, people are using telemedicine for convenience, to save time in the waiting room at the doctor, and to get prompt care.

Many companies are motivated to offer patients a 24/7 access to medical care and a platform for the doctor’s virtual visits with their patients. The advancement in technology provides an edge in a competitive healthcare. The wide variety of advanced health apps enables the physician to monitor the health of their patients.

With the advanced medical devices, patients can determine the vital signs, infections, glucose levels, blood pressure without going to the doctor’s clinic or hospital. As patients become proactive about using technology to detect the status of their health, they also become receptive to get an alternative care through telemedicine. Here are some examples of the advantages of Telemedicine:

Accessibility of Quality Health Care

Remote regions get a quality patient care without delay. Clinics in rural areas use video for the interaction between the patient and a specialist in the city. Doctors are also using telemedicine to monitor the situation and provide treatment to patients in remote areas, at home, and in another hospital or clinic.

Provides Convenience to Patients

Telemedicine eradicates the time spent in a crowded room waiting for the physician, with other coughing patients.  It helps you save your strength and prevents you from being infected by others.

It provides ease of scheduling. Your appointment with your physician can be set online or through your mobile phone and consultation can be done via video technology. It places the power of health through a click of the mouse or press on your phone. It also reduced the burden of traveling.

Telemedicine also provides easy access for immobile patients. Patients with complex medical conditions can be given a quality health care from a specialist in another hospital through the use of telemedicine. It provides easy access to quality health care for patients in a very critical condition.

Saves Time for Both the Physician and Patient

It enables the patient to save travel time. Patients who need to travel millions of miles to reach a physical can benefit from telemedicine. It enables effective communication, examination, and treatment of the patients in different locations.

Telemedicine saves the time of physicians. They can connect with patients on a more flexible schedule. It also reduces no-shows because it gives the patient the most convenient way to have an appointment with the physicians. If ever patients missed the appointments, they can easily replace that time by online scheduling.

It also lessens the overhead cost of the physician. Shorter office hours means saving operating expenses such as salaries, electricity, etc. With telemedicine, physicians can continue their work at home.

Saves Cost for Both the Physician and Patient

It eliminates travel expenses. Many patients do not have the financial capacity to travel for medical treatment. However, with telemedicine, they are given a better opportunity to seek medical care.

Telemedicine is helpful for patients with several chronic ailments which require continuous medication.  It helps them spend less for hospital bills. It would allow them to have the medication at home with quality health care. With video calling, it is easier to enhance patient satisfaction through remote quality health care.

Provides a 24/7 Quality Health Services

The patient sometimes needs immediate care from the physician outside the physician’s office hours. With telemedicine, the physician can have a quick overview and appropriate advice that could save the patient’s hassle, time, and money. Telemedicine extends the physician’s working hours and increases the physician’s the availability of urgent service.

Takeaway

Telemedicine is a crucial part of healthcare.  It is one of the rapidly growing sectors in health care. It is designed to enhance the delivery of quality healthcare while reducing costs. It places the patient at the focal point of health care. It is experiencing rapid growth. More and more physicians and patients are using this method. Experts are continuously looking for ways to improve telemedicine and make it more viable for many medical scenarios.

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Emergency Management

Facebook Introduces a New Center for Crisis Response

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Facebook announced that their crisis response tools, including Safety Check, Community Help, and Fundraisers, will be accessible in a new center on Facebook called Crisis Response. Beginning today, people will also be able to see more crisis-related content, such as links to articles, photos and videos posted by the Facebook community, from crises around the world where Safety Check has been activated.

Since the first Safety Check tool in 2011, Facebook has continued to develop a number of crisis response tools to better serve its community. When there is a crisis, people use Facebook to let their friends and family know they’re safe, learn and share more about what’s happening, and help communities recover. People will be able to access Crisis Response on Facebook in the upcoming weeks from the homepage on desktop or from the menu button on their phone. They will see the following tools when they’re on a crisis page:

  • Safety Check: an easy way to let your friends and family know you’re safe. It will continue to work the same way it does today and will be featured at the top of each crisis page if you are in the affected area.
  • Links to Articles, Photos and Videos: crisis-related content from public posts can help people learn more about a crisis.
  • Community Help: people can ask for and give help to communities affected by the crisis.
  • Fundraisers: let people create fundraisers and donate to support those affected by the crisis and nonprofit organizations helping with relief efforts.

As part of the single resource hub, Facebook will also include links to articles, photos, and videos from public posts so people have access to more information about a crisis in one place. Safety Check activations and related information may also appear in News Feed to help provide additional details about a crisis.

Facebook strives to continuously provide people with helpful information to keep them safe and help communities to rebuild and recover.

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