14 Mar

I’m fascinated by all of the novel uses of smart phones these days. The field of mHealth-mobile phones used for diagnostics is particularly attractive, lucrative and growing. I envision a day where the phone can perform all the tests you need to go see a doctor for. Our generation will demand it and engineers will make it possible, because capitalists will see the payout.

In an interesting excerpt from the times article linked above;

Aydogan Ozcan, who runs an electrical engineering lab at U.C.L.A., has developed small attachments to cellphones that can serve as a sophisticated microscope, diagnose common diseases, detect pathogens such as E. coli and sniff out allergens.  The phone can also send reports to a Google Map server to plot the spread of disease (it’s only meaningful, of course, if enough people use the system).   Perhaps most intriguing, his lab has developed an online game in which players undergo a brief training, then examine slides of cells to guess if they are infected with malaria.  Dr. Ozcan found that a group of nonexperts came within 1.25 percent of the accuracy of an expert, opening the possibility that a crowd of amateurs could perform remote diagnoses when experts are scarce.

Crowdsourcing diagnostics…wow!

I take issue with the authors claim that, “Success should mean better health outcomes.” I’m not against better health outcomes, I just feel their is a convenience aspect to the devices. The outcome’s might be the same if you had gone to a doctor, but the mobile device saved you a trip. This line of reasoning may be more applicable to rich countries than developing ones, where people don’t have access to a doctor. In which case I would hope the applications provide better health outcomes.

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