The cell phone in your pocket might soon assist you to diagnose and monitor diseases. As mobile phones become more modern, advanced and ubiquitous, researchers are seeking technologies embedded within them to screen for, diagnose and handle health problems or disease management between office visits, claimed researchers at the institute of American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston last weekend.
Mobile phones and other personal devices permit for “more continuous measurements, measurements at home, measurements when you really have a symptom,” stated Shwetak Patel, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the institute of University of Washington, at an AAAS press briefing.
Tools like the camera, flash and microphone on mobile phones keep getting better and better, Patel said.
“Those sensors that are already on the mobile phone can really be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can really use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases,” he added.
With the app SpiroSmart, established by Patel and others at the University of Washington’s ubicomplab, consumers breathe into the microphone of their smartphones in case to monitor their lung function. With careful usage, the app might also offer a preliminary diagnosis of conditions like asthma and COPD.
Hema App, also established at the institute of University of Washington, applies the camera and flash of a mobile phone to identify conditions such as anemia, hemoglobin deficiency or iron deficiency. Unlike typical blood tests, this blood screening tool is entirely noninvasive.
The Food and Drug Administration is prensetly reviewing the apps as part of its screening process for clinical testing.
Apps like these make it simpler for doctors and sufferers to work together for disease management and give researchers more data to observe. They also have the potential to make a big affect on health care worldwide, Patel stated.
“You can consider this being used as a screening tool or the broader impact in developing countries where screening tools do not even exist in primary care,” he claimed.
As of previous year, more than 165,000 health care apps have been downloaded more than a billion times, in accordance to Gregory Hager, a professor of computer science at John’s Hopkins University.
But despite their potential and fame, so far, the vast majority of these apps lack evidence-based research, Hager stated.
Several apps and devices also raise privacy concerns around what happens to the largely sensitive data that they collect.
Mobile apps’ user contracts normally state which data is being captured, where it is being stored and who has access to it. But most consumers do not even read the agreement, Hager said. And individual apps offer varying amount of security to the user.
“It is basically a Wild West out there,” Hager claimed.
Still, researchers were optimistic about the way mobile devices could boost sufferers and address disease management or health disparities, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
“It actually changes the way we diagnose, treat, and manage chronic diseases,” Patel stated.
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