The Rise Of Mobile Technologies
Mobile Interfaces and Wireless Technologies in Health:
Mobile devices and wireless technologies are now ‘operating” in the health sector adding hope in saving lives of millions of people from preventable diseases.
At the mHealth Summit, representatives from pharmaceutical companies, non-profits, telecoms, academia and other social enterprises discussed the issues that plague health care in developing countries such as drug distribution and affordability, appropriate “point of decision” knowledge and use of medicines and availability of information on health risks.
Given the rise in mobile use and its growing user friendly interfaces, real potential is being seen in capitalizing tying the technology to health logistics and even diagnostics.
Mobile Technologies Initiatives in Health:
Top Initiatives in developing countries:
Some initiatives have already started in developing countries. Sproxil in Ghana has begun to introduce mobile authentication tools to ensure that the medicines consumers are buying are not counterfeits that flood the markets in poor countries almost perfectly disguised as the real thing right down to the holograms.
Nineteenth century inventory techniques lead to surplus and aging pharmaceuticals in one remote area while people are dying from its absence in others. New mobile apps are beginning to deal with these logistics issues cheaply and quickly without years of training.
Mobile App In Cancer Diagnosis:
Smartphones will soon be used to diagnose cancer. The cancer scare will no longer paralyze you for a few days. The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Scanner, microNMR, attached to your smartphone can deliver an accurate diagnosis in less than an hour. With a new app in your smart phone developed to work with this device, the whole process of detecting cancer cells will take about an hour. Just an hour compared to the week-long biopsy process of getting results through the old method of using a needle to extract a sample for diagnosis. This microNMR device developed by Dr. Ralph Weissleder of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, microNMR, is a welcome relief to many diagnosed with suspicious lumps and living in remote areas.
When I was diagnosed with a suspicious lump years ago, they extracted samples from the suspicious area using a needle and these samples were sent to the laboratory for examination. The sample was then stained to look for suspected proteins and the cell shape examined. As I left immediately for overseas work, it took long before I got the results. Meanwhile, you anguish over the possibilities.
By analyzing how nuclei are affected by magnetic fields, this microNMR will identify molecules. It attaches magnetic nanoparticles to proteins enabling the easy identification of proteins associated with tumor cells. Initial tests revealed nine protein markers for cancer cells. The results are then read by connecting the scanner to a smartphone with a special app allowing doctors to readily make the diagnosis.
The device has already been tested on multiple cells and accurate diagnosis was delivered to 48 out of 50 patients. Another test delivered 100% accuracy in 20 patients. Because the device only requires tiny sample, they can get samples from different parts to improve accuracy.
Other apps that promote health include MyRTK (My Right to Know), a new mobile application that offers information regarding location of harmful sites in around the country, the toxins these sites release and how they affect your health.
There is also the Lab on a Chip developed for fast and inexpensive blood tests.
Just The Beginning:
Maybe this is just the beginning for other smartphone apps to be developed that will have life saving potential for many people. Minutes ago I got a call from a friend who just finished a project visit in the province. She was in a car coming back to the city when all of a sudden she just felt so ill. That was when I thought if only there are apps now that could detect our body signs and communicate these to a diagnostician to help us manage the discomfort. what ails us. That would save us plenty of stress and have a serious impact on health care.