Friday, July 12, 2013

The Advances in Mobile Health/Smartphone Apps



January 22, 2013: The iExaminer System from Welch Allyn, an iPhone app and peripheral device that allows doctors to use the iPhone camera to take photographs of the interior surface of the eye receives 510(k) FDA clearance. It builds on the company’s existing PanOptic Opthalmoscope, a device that lets a physician see into the back of a patient’s eye

Timeline: Smartphone-enabled health devices:

Mobile health has come a long way since the start of 2009 when Apple demonstrated on-stage at its World Wide Developer Conference how blood pressure monitors and blood glucose meters could connect to the iPhone 3G via cables or Bluetooth. MobiHealthNews has tracked health-related wearable devices from their infancy as research projects at university labs to the commercially available products they are today. The past three Consumer Electronics Shows, especially, have yielded a wide range of smartphone-enabled health and fitness devices, from smart forks to connected pulse oximeters and, of course, the numerous wearable activity trackers.

As I have noted in previous posts, “It’s All in the Wrist'”. If you play tennis, that is a non-sequitor.

Whether it is worn on the wrist, finger tip, tatooed on the skin, swallowed,or injected subcutaneously, Wi-Fi and/or cell phone connection can connect you directly to your doctor’s EMR or your personal  health record.  Eventually if you have a pacemaker it will be able to signal your cardiologist when your heart stops and get a shock in return.

Some of these were science fiction less than ten years ago.

Although smartphone are usually thought of as consumer devices, they offer computing power far in excess of what is used for the original missions to the moon.  Even the space shuttles digital computing power is meager as compared to an ordinary Android or iOS device.

Even Steven Colbert will submit to an iPhone invasion of his auricular orifice.

Colbert Topol

Beginning in 2009 there were few mobile applications, however by 2013 the list has grown.  The uptick in smartphone apps has drawn the attention of the FDA and congress in an ATTEMPT to classify health apps/smartphones as a medical device.

Within the spectrum of medicine and science expensive lab equipment costing $ 50,000 or more can be replaced by a smartphone. In one case a spectrophotometer designed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a versatile iPhone-based biosensor that, with about $200 worth of parts, is just as accurate as a $50,000 laboratory spectrophotometer.

Illinois Smartphone Biosensor

The system, consisting of an iPhone cradle and an app, can detect viruses, bacteria, toxins, proteins and even allergens in food using the smartphone’s camera as a spectrometer and the powerful processor to make calculations.

The advances since 2009 are remarkable.

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