As mobile technology develops, and wireless cell phone data rates increase the use of a smartphone camera with adequate resolution can become a useful source of information which requires no additional, nor specialized services to be utilized in a medical situation.
For instance the use of an electrocardiogram for remote monitoring would ordinarily require a specialized EKG machine and a specialized data link.
A team of doctors at the University of Virginia medical center has developed an app to more easily, quickly, and efficiently transmit electrocardiogram tracings from heart attack patients to doctors, enabling doctors to diagnose a particular kind of heart attack that can benefit from immediate treatment.
Most of the existing commercial systems, where the EKG hooks up to a modem to send readings to a hospital computer, are expensive and time consuming.
On the other hand, just snapping a photo with a mobile phone’s camera is not always high enough quality to be helpful, and can also take a long time.
STEMISend uses the phone camera but compresses the file size as much as possible while still maintaining a diagnostic-quality image. The development of 4G and LTE on the cell phone network may obviate compressing the images. 4G and LTE adequately carry video and imaging with HD resolution. (720p or 1080p.
Faster than my home desktop on wifi
They tested the app more than 1,500 times via Sprint, AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks, with three or more bars of cellular service. Burt and his team have been doing preliminary field testing on the app, taking pictures at various locations near UVA’s campus where heart attacks often occur, like local grocery stores.
The system can remain HIPAA compliant even though the pictures are sent through unsecure cellular networks in the same way that radio conversations with emergency response workers comply with HIPAA: by eliminating patient identifiers. The EKG images are sent without images or names of the patients.
Burt says the goal is to make this remain a low-cost option for hospitals that can’t afford to invest in expensive commercial systems: