- Smartphones can
be used by patients to test themselves, upload the results to local
clinics and get medical advice from healthcare personnel sitting in the
comfort of their home rather than attending in person
- Smartphones are
increasingly becoming popular in sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected that
by 2020, one in two mobile phone connections in the region will be through
- Just as people
are increasingly using smartphones to control their finances and connect
with the world, it is only sensible that smartphones can be applied more
usefully in the area of healthcare as well for the well being and
convenience of patients
Smartphones can revolutionize healthcare in rural areas such as sub-Saharan Africa
and allow patients and health workers to diagnose, track and control infectious
diseases in low-income countries, where smartphones are becoming highly
The current research was conducted by
scientists at Imperial, Karolinska Institute, UCL, University of KwaZulu-Natal,
Africa Health Research Institute, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, and the team hopes that smartphones can
help drastically improve the health and well being of the population
‘A smartphone is like a powerful pocket computer which can be used by patients to take control of their health and connect with healthcare personnel. This opens up a whole new avenue for scientists and policymakers to develop new tools and systems that will take healthcare to a new level.’
Professor Molly Stevens,
lead author from Imperial's Departments of Bioengineering and
Materials, said: "People
increasingly use smartphones to manage their money and connect with the world.
It makes sense that phones can also play an even larger role in healthcare than
they already do."
The details of the review appear in the
Smartphones Help in Diagnosing Infections at Home
Many smartphones come with built-in sensors such as heart rate
monitor and an oximeter to measure oxygen concentrations in the blood, as well
as a camera and microphone that can be used to interpret images and
sounds such as breathing.
Additionally, simple testing devices and technologies are being developed that can be
attached to a phone, either through a USB stick or wirelessly.
Thus, a person can test himself at home
by means of a blood sample through a pinprick and scan the results into the mobile phone app.
The apps would then transmit the results
to the nearest clinics and then be uploaded
onto a central online database. This saves the patient the time and effort of
attending the hospital in person.
Additionally, the apps may allow the
patient to set up virtual consultations
with health care personnel
and resources such as these will increase the
rates of persons getting tested and seeking treatment, particularly in regions
with scarce facilities and infrastructure.
Persons who want to rule out HIV
infections will be encouraged to get tested
at home rather than the stigma associated with attending the clinic in person.
If the app testing is used widely, it will help doctors and healthcare
workers to be alert about a similar
cluster of symptoms across a region that
could predict potential outbreaks
and be well prepared to fight such occurrences.
of Smartphones in Health Diagnosis
- Over 35
percent of the global population has no access to mobile phones
- Accuracy of test
results is likely to be higher in labs and clinics where there are trained
staffs and proper sterile conditions are maintained compared to home
- Measures must be
put in place to safeguard the data of the patient and keep it
confidential. These must be clearly explained to the patients to encourage
them to adopt the new technologies for health care
Nevertheless, the team of researchers remain
optimistic and feel if these minor challenges can be overcome, smartphones
could play a huge role in the health and well being of patients in the future.
Smartphone apps can be used to diagnose infectious diseases at home by patients
themselves in remote and rural regions such as sub-Saharan Africa where health
centers are very far. This will improve testing and drastically improve health
and well being of the population.
- Taking connected mobile-health diagnostics of infectious diseases to the field - (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1320937)