Monday, May 19, 2008

Today’s tricorders

Olga Kharif, in Tech News World (May 5), gives us one more reason to love the iPhone. As if we needed another reason!

The software company Life Record is developing ways to let physicians view medical records, including electrocardiograms and brain scans, using the iPhone. Their software also lets doctors send and receive patient records by SMS, and order prescriptions.

For those of us who are not doctors but want an excuse to buy an iPhone, the company is also developing software for patients. For $50 a year (which is nothing compared to the cost of the 2-year contract you have to sign when you buy the phone) patients can have access to their own records via iPhone. This could be handy when visiting a new doctor or specialist.

iPhone users aren’t the only ones who will benefit from new medical technologies. Kharif reports that 17 of the 30+ health care projects funded by Microsoft Research involve cell phones. And sales of phone applications for medical professionals are expected to more than double by 2011.

Researchers hope that mobile phones will help reduce the frequency of medical errors. Gentag is developing wireless disposable skin patches which store the patient’s medical records. The patches are equipped with a chip that transmit to a mobile phone. If the patient is about to receive medication, the patch can warn of any allergies. The patch will also allow patients’ blood glucose and temperature to be monitored by phone.

Another life-saving idea, being developed at the University of Pittsburgh, connects a heart monitor with a cell phone: the cell phone analyzes the readings, and calls an ambulance if the heart starts behaving dangerously. The phone provides the EMTs with the patient’s location, and the EMTs know what to expect when they arrive.

A similar application has been introduced in California by BeWell Mobile. Patients with asthma or diabetes can send their home test results to their doctors by mobile phone. The software can make dietary suggestions based on glucose levels. This sort of program can cut down on emergency room visits.


Erik said...

I'm actually working on a project that involves collecting information from implanted medical devices and making it available to clinicians via web browser. There are no cell phones involved but I suppose a doctor with an iPhone could use it to view the website.

Jennifer said...

Awesome project. That sort of thing will really improve the lives of patients who now have to make regular trips to the doctor.