I recently had the pleasure of taking part in the 2013 Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards, where four new Android and iOS applications were awarded €30,000 each to continue their excellent work. These awards recognise transformational apps designed to improve people’s lives, deliver substantial public benefit and stimulate thinking of how mobile technology can improve the delivery of public services for society.
Personally, I want to thank Vodafone for providing a platform for social innovators and entrepreneurs to show their creativity and ability to turn technology in a force for social progress. How technology, market forces, public institutions and engaged citizens can together improve public good is not only one of the hot topic in the current political debate, but also the way to transform Europe.
I want to share a story coming from my home country, Italy (actually from my home town, Bologna) to show the power of technology when it’s put in the hands of people committed to public good. This alliance can transform public services at a scale that we still struggle to replicate.
In 1978 Franco Pannuti, oncologist at the hospital of Bologna, founded ANT, an association providing palliative care for patients with terminal cancer. It’s a sad topic but it’s a real issue that has touched everybody in a way or the other one.
Dr Pannuti wanted to help his patients dying in the most dignified way. After working for many years in a hospital he realized that patients want to end their life not in a hospital dipping in and out, but at home, with their own family. This is better for the patients and their families… and even for the tax payers.
The daily cost of a terminal patient assisted at home is €30, while the cost would be €400 if treated in the hospital.
Since the ‘80s ANT has taken care of over 100,000 patients in ten regions in Italy employing 250 professional staff members amongst doctors and nurses.
However, organising the assistance of nurses and doctors at home was a huge cost. The logistics and data sharing was crazy… until Francesco, son of Franco and an electronic engineer, developed VitaEver – “Life for ever” – a cloud service (SAS) that connects ANT staff to patients and their medical information. It’s a standard software using internet connection to a centralized database and smartphones to connect.
Thanks to VitaEver:
– Doctors and nurses can organise the management of their visits to patients in a rational way.
– They can access info on every patient as they arrive at the respective home.
– Patients have access to their own data and can update it in real time.
– ANT makes savings: only this year their efforts led to 700.000 fewer printed sheets being produced and 40,000 fewer calls made.
– Finally the system has been already adopted by other similar organisations and can be easily adapted to services dealing with 20 to 6000 clients.
Open innovation, public service decentralization, users’ empowerment, and a fair sharing of benefits and responsibility are the principles to maintain and improve the quality of public services that distinguish Europe in the world.
It’s the creed of The Young Foundation, and it’s made possible by innovators like Franco and Francesco. They would be happy to sit together with the winners of Vodafone Mobile for Good.
When technology empowers people to take destiny in their hands we all win as a society.