By Joan Justice

First Posted at HealthWorks Collective on 3/26/2013

Joan Justice, Moderator, HealthWorks Collective
Joan Justice, Moderator, HealthWorks Collective

Mobile Technology, miniaturization and remote diagnostics have driven creative minds in healthcare to come up with some truly wonderful medical apps and devices.  But I have a wish list!  One product is already created, one is [sort of] on the way and the third is not quite there yet.

One product that I think is truly amazing and (I think) a huge step forward for healthcare is the AliveCor Heart Monitor  (image from AliveCor)  I interviewed Dr David Albert about this product and in the interview, he actually demonstrated how the heart monitor worked.  By just placing 2 fingers on an iPhone (it’s not yet available for Droid, otherwise I would have bought one), you can get a simple EKG of your heart to either store or send to your doctor.  I find this totally amazing.  Eric Topol has one and actually used it twice while traveling.  The first time, he had a pilot make an emergency landing as the person he had monitored with the AliveCor heart monitor was having a heart attack.  The second time, the person was in atrial fibrillation and he stayed with the patient and calmed him until the pilot landed 90 minutes later.


Currently, the AliveCor Heart Monitor is only available for iPhone and only with a prescription from a physician.  Dr Albert expects the over-the-counter version of the heart monitor to be out mid 2013.

ImageThe second product on my wish-list is a portable blood testing device that would test blood and send results to a mobile phone.  Initially, it would test blood counts and simple chemistry.  I have no idea how this would work but perhaps much like a glucometer.  I just read about a product developed by the Integrated Systems Laboratory at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The product (image from EPFL) is implanted under the skin and comes in contact with the body’s fluids.  The miniature laboratory collects data from 5 sensors once every 10 minutes.  Updates are sent to the doctor who can view the results on a mobile phone or tablet.  This product is going through testing right now and will not be available for widespread commercial use for a couple of years.  This is very close to my wish-list product.  I would not make the product implantable though, but more like a glucometer – you would prick the skin and a sensor would come in contact with a drop of blood or fluid and analyze the blood cells or chemistry and send the results to a mobile phone.

The third product on my wish-list is a mobile X-ray scanner that would scan and take x-ray pictures with a mobile Imagephone, and store them or send them in for interpretation.  There are plenty of scanners but none that will adapt to a mobile phone, at least not yet.

I did read of a team at the University of Texas at Dallas led by Kenneth O, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering, that has designed a chip that could enable the camera on a mobile phone to see into the human body.

An article in TechNewsWorld by Peter Suciu states:

This advancement is possible because of developments in CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology, which serves as the basis for most electronic devices today. Coupled with the terahertz development, this could create medical devices the size of a mobile phone. The researchers at the University of Texas see a potential for this technology to be used in place of X-rays.”

Currently, privacy concerns have limited development of this product, but the team is still working on the idea.

While researching this idea for a mobile scanner, I did come across another creative individual with the same idea.  Watch this [fake] YouTube video to get an idea of what a future mobile scanner would look like!

I had a lot of fun researching for this post.  It is amazing what is out there already and what innovative, truly amazing things are being researched.  My first wish-list product is available and I will bet that within 5 years, the other two will be on the market also.

Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In. She is also the CEO of Health Tech Hatch, the sister site of TDWI that helps innovators tell their stories to the world. She is also a physician executive who has worked in all aspects of healthcare including practicing emergency physician, health plan executive, consultant to employers, CMS, and other organizations. She is a Board Certified Internist and Emergency Physician who loves to write about just about anything that has to do with healthcare.


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