Craig Lehmann, dean of the School of Health Technology and Management at Stony Brook University, was one of 12 experts selected from around the world who reviewed trends in information communication technologies (ICTs) at a meeting convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meeting, held July 24 to 25, 2013, was titled “E-Participation: Empowering People Through Information Communication Technologies.” E-participation requires the use of ICTs — such as the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones and other media — that enable people to connect with one another. As more people from different social groups use and depend on these technologies to connect with their local agencies, governments and elected representatives, the quality and efficiency of public services, figures and institutions become more transparent. As a result, users gain a sense of empowerment.
The 12 experts, many of whom are high-profile academicians, business professionals or policymakers, were chosen for their in-depth knowledge of e-participation. Lehmann, who in previous years had delivered presentations at the UN on the impact of health technology for the developed and developing world, was the only person in the group with expertise in ICT and e-health technology.
Lehmann, a professor of clinical laboratory sciences and director of The Center for Public Health Education at Stony Brook, is a registered clinical chemist with the National Registry of Clinical Chemistry and a fellow of the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry. He has made more than 130 presentations around the world on a variety of healthcare topics. For the past several years Lehmann has lectured at national and international conferences on the topic of emerging technologies and how they improve the aging experience.
At the UN meeting he presented a paper on innovation and technology for the rapidly aging world population, detailing how ICT can benefit that demographic, especially in rural areas or developing countries, such India and Africa.
“Some of the healthcare challenges in remote regions are a lack of diagnostic technology, an inability to consult with other healthcare professionals, delayed treatment, inadequate referral systems, poor access and limited clinic hours. Barriers to ICT can be very challenging, particularly in rural areas where there is no continuous power and connectivity,” he wrote in the paper. “When a product is easy to use and inexpensive, such as mobile ICT (cell phones, for example,), everyone in a community benefits, particularly the aged, many of whom are already facing additional challenges, such as chronic illness, isolation, poverty, illiteracy, etc.”
Lehmann also delivered a PowerPoint presentation that focused on the importance of e-participation as a means for social inclusion for older persons and people with disabilities, and talked about what he calls the international digital divide — a lack of ICT connectivity in rural and poor populations.
“The e-participation meeting was an opportunity for me to demonstrate to my international colleagues that there is no better example of empowerment than meeting the public health challenges of the world’s increasing aging population with ICT and its impact on policymakers,” he said.
— Susan Tito