GOOD 100: Meet Josh Nesbit, Creating Healthier Communities With A Simple Cell Phone

Nesbit saw more in the power of cellphones than instant access to Twitter feeds, Instagram profiles and e-mail. His company, Medic Mobile, uses text m

Nesbit saw more in the power of cell phones than instant access to Twitter feeds, Instagram profiles and e-mail. His company, Medic Mobile, uses text messaging as a way to transmit medical information, allowing community health workers to care for more people. Medic Mobile uses FrontlineSMS, an open source platform that utilizes the existing, inexpensive infrastructure of text messages. It may not seem viable to those of us living with state-of-the-art medical technology and spotty cell phone reception. But in areas like rural Malawi, where Nesbit was first struck with inspiration, this access can be lifesaving.

As an undergrad researching pediatric HIV in Malawi, Nesbit noticed that in many remote areas where health care was poor and medical facilities were distant, cell phone service seemed to be as good as anywhere else. Medic Mobile has since helped over thirty organizations harness technology to improve health services in more than fifteen countries.

Now Nesbit is sitting on the Impact 30 and shaking hands with the likes of Bill Clinton.

"We’ve stayed true to the idea that the greatest health impact per dollar invested comes from making use of tools that are already available, rather than developing something new for each project."

Nesbit isn't stopping here. In 2013, he hopes to double Medic Mobile’s footprint. By the end of the year, he aims to be supporting frontline health workers in 15,000 communities across 20 countries.

“Each health worker using our mobile tools will cover a community with 500 people and provide care for 100 patients per year,” Nesbit says. “If we hit our targets, we'll change how healthcare is provided to 1.5 million people.”

The Medic Mobile crew also plans to launch new projects in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Bangladesh, Mexico, Zambia, Namibia, and Kenya in the next six months.

Nesbit reminds GOOD users that they can donate their old phones for free, using a mailing label available online, through the group’s Hope Phones project. Funds raised through Hope Phones are used to support projects at Medic Mobile, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We've added it to our To-Do list, check it out and make your device do more good.

Follow Josh here.

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