Smartphone sector is one of the the fastest growing fields in communication and electronics industry, and we can see the influence of smartphones in all the fields of life. In terms of computing power and features present day smartphones surpass early desktops and laptops miles behind. Like any other fields the impact of smartphones in medicine and health care field has already been significant. Smartphones serves a very important role in medical filed – like patient monitoring, fast diagnostics, communication and education.
If a health disciplined patient come with the historical statistics of his/her blood pressure, heart beat rate, gluco etc. it will be a great help for the doctor to diagnose and decide the correct treatment. At the same time a doctor can also make use of the smartphones and tablets for instant diagnostics and better communication with patients. Nowadays physicians are beginning to embrace the adoption of mobile applications and devices for medical use. The convergence of smartphone technology and the pressure of health care cost drives the direct to consumer health care market. Here let’s see some revolutionary smartphone applications and devices in medical field .
Blood pressure monitor
As per American Heart Association high blood pressure is a common problem which affects more than 25% of the world population. Forget about the traditional mercury blood pressure monitoring system. In this smart phone era you need not to be a doctor or nurse to monitor and keep a record of the blood pressure of you and your family.
The blood pressure monitor from iHealth Labs named iHealth BPM is such a device . The device comprised of a small hemisphere dock and an inflatable blood pressure arm cuff. iHealth BPM application is available at iTunes store for free download. Usage part is very simple. Just wrap the cuff on your arm, run the iHealth BPM application and place it on the dock. Press the start button on the screen. cuff will be inflated automatically. Within few seconds you will get Systolic, Diastolic readings and Pulse rate on the screen. The feature of application includes a diary for tracking BP measurements taken by the iHealth BP dock. The dock can be charged through the USB port within 90 minutes.
Wthing Blood Pressure Monitor.
This is a similar product like iHealth BPM which tracks your blood pressure. The main difference is that Wthing’s device is available for Android devices also. This device comprised of an inflatable arm cuff and an Android/iPhone application. For measurement you need to wrap the cuff around the arm and plug the cable into iPhon/iPod/iPad or Android device installed with the Wthing Application. You can optionally select the sinlge measurement or average value of three measurements. The application keeps the history of measurements and present the data through interactive graphs. Email feature makes your family doctor get informed about your blood pressure variations.
Blood Glucose Monitors
iBigstar is the first company who released a Glucose monitor accessory which can be connected to iPhone/iPod/iPad. iBigstar glucose monitor is a stylish small apparatus which can be directly plugged into your iPhone . On first time use it will prompt to download the required iBigstar application from iTunes. Unlike other glucose monitors, no calibration is required to use this device. The application keep the record of measurements for future reference and analysis.
MyGlucoHealth wireless meter is a revolutionary product from Entra Health systems. This device is featured as world’s first integrated bluetooth enabled wireless glucose meter. This wireless meter works in conjunction with a real time data collection network to upload and report the glucose reading of patients. The company is facilitating a free online platform ( http://www.myhealthpoint.com/en/ ) too keep the track of your health records.
Netra is 2$ smart phone accessory which virtually replaces the costly and bulky conventional eye testing system. This is a great invention from the researchers of MIT. This revolutionary portable smart phone attachment helps to analyze the refractive errors of human eyes which is extremely helpful for the patients in third world countries where proper eye exams and diagnoses is very difficult.
Netra is a cellphone attachment through which patient can look into the lens to view a pattern of parallel red and green lines. Using the arrow keys in phone the patient can adjust the lines until they overlap. Within few seconds the application will show measurement of your eye glass. Two eye testing applications are available. The application EyeNetra measures the refractive errors of eye and EyeCatra tests Cataract. This revolutionary invention has bagged several awards world wide.
CellScope Oto is an iPhone attachment helps pediatricians to get a more clear picture of the middle ear. This device and associated application allows parents to save time by allowing ear infections to be diagnosed and treated remotely.
CellScope Derm helps patient to take high resolution images of skins from their own homes with great privacy and share the same with doctors for diagnostics.
Smartphone Ultrasound Scanners
Mobisante , a US based firm is the first one to launch a smart phone based portable ultra sound imaging system. The system comprised of a small scanning apparatus, an associated smartphone application and a connecting cord. Images can be shared with full privacy for remote diagnostics. It can’t be considered as a perfect replacement of conventional ultrasound imaging system, but a device which comes at a fraction of the cost is a valuable quick diagnostic tool for the doctors who works in disaster relief operation and at remote villages.
Mobisante in Action
Stethoscope, they typical ornament around the doctor’s neck used today is very much close to the ones used in 1930s. The development of stethoscope has been always dependent on the invention of new materials like rubber and stainless steel. Now smartphones accompany smartphones for added advantages and convenience.
Thinklabs’s digital stethoscope and the iPhone application helps medical professionals to visualize and record the heart beats. The application features Record and Display waveforms and spectrogram in real time, Scroll and Zoom In/Out using multi-Touch user interface, Edit Sounds on-screen, Save Recorded sounds and Email Sounds and Images, along with notes.
ECG through smartphone
Electro Cardiogram (ECG) is the most important and preliminary investigation which reveals the problems related to heart. Even though the continuous evolution of advanced technologies still ECG retains its central role in diagnostic evaluation of patients with cardiovascular disease.
Now a small smartphone case can also function as a portable ECG machine. AliveCor’s ECG iPhone case makes ECG screening a child’s play. The device fit into the back of iPhone like a conventional iPhone cover case then records, displays, stores, and transfers single-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythms wirelessly with the free AliveECG app. AliveCor features this device as “a clinical-quality, low-cost mobile ECG device” and the first FDA-cleared smart phone–based ECG monitor.
Lifewatch-V The new all in one healthcare companion.
Now Lifewatch technologies- An Israel based company has launched a new smartphone with carries a range of medical tests and can send the reports to the user and his physician. This Android smartphone has inbuilt sensors which are capable to carryout following tests.
- blood oxygen level
- ECG, Glucose Level
- heart rate,
- body fat analysis,
- Body temperature
- Blood saturation
Apart from the above mentioned tests, the phone is bundled with health tests and apps, test result delivery, historical data analysis and physician connectivity. Cloud storage feature facilitates secure and remote storage of the test results than can be accessed from anywhere anytime.
In general Lifewatch –V is a small pocket clinical lab and works without additional accessories.
The growing research in the use of smartphone in health care field results better applications and devices for diagnostics, quick practical medical information for patient care, better communication within the hospitals and as a better portable diagnostic tool in the remote villages of third world countries. In this context the smart phones used as management tools for both the doctor and the patient have changed and continue to change the way how physicians serve.
Despite the advantages, some negative aspects of the smartphone accessories and applications in health care field can’t be ignored. Regulatory authorities like FDA (in US) takes the task of deciding when a phone or tablet becomes a medical device that needs to regulated and calibrated with the standard lab devices. If the regulatory structure is organized and open to technological advances, the future of smart phone based medical devices will be bright.