Dr. Richard Lomotey: His research is good for your health
Lomotey applies mobile solutions to real-world problems like health care.
Smart phones have already replaced the pay phone, the CD collection and the disposable camera.
But how about the doctor’s visit?
Penn State Beaver Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology Richard Lomotey says that’s one of the many things that becomes possible when you apply mobile solutions to real-world problems.
“I want us to understand the cultural impact mobile technology has brought about globally,” he said.
Lomotey grew up in rural Ghana, where many people don’t have access to adequate health care. After moving to the U.S., Lomotey quickly realized the issue could be alleviated with technology.
For example, last year, Lomotey lost a relative to a snake bite. Had that relative been able to access health information via, say, a smart phone, the death could have been prevented.
“It shouldn’t happen when information about symptoms and emergency instructions are only a fingertip away,” he said.
But Lomotey’s true focus is on an issue that has the potential to crush the healthcare system in the next 30 years – aging baby boomers. Three million baby boomers are retiring each year, taking skilled doctors and nurses out of the workforce and taxing those professionals left behind with their increasing medical needs.
He envisions putting mobile self-assessment tools into the hands of technologically savvy patients, halting unnecessary doctor visits, helping to reduce the burden on healthcare facilities and bringing balance to the doctor-patient ratio.
“My passion is to look at how we can help to relieve that impact on the healthcare system,” Lomotey said.
One of his most recent contributions to the cause is the Hemophilia Injury Recognition Tool, which allows young men with hemophilia (or their parents) to track symptoms after an injury. Based on inputted data over time, the app estimates if the injury is getting better or worse, recommends when to seek treatment and even lists the nearest treatment center.
“The app is like having the presence of your doctor in your pocket,” Lomotey said.
Lomotey often enlists the help of students in his research – three IST students helped him develop the hemophilia app – and encourages his students to conduct their own research as well. He sees their successes as a win for the entire campus.
“I believe it will boost the confidence of the other students,” Lomotey said.
B.S. Computer Science, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
M.S. Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan, Canada