Cutting-Edge Health Apps are Converting Smarthphones Into Virtual Doctors

First it was a diabetes health apps and now it’s std’s. What’s next. There’ll come a time when your smartphones will serve as your virtual doctors.

Ever wonder how these devices could now detect STD? A biochemical engineer at Columbia University Samuel Sia had been working in Rwanda for eight years now where there is a rapidly spreading of sexually transmitted disease. Unfortunately pregnant women had passed it to their unborn children.

“The World Health Organization has identified HIV and syphilis as two of the top diseases needed in a portable blood test for pregnant women,” Sia said. “We know that early diagnosis and treatment in pregnant mothers can greatly reduce adverse consequences to both mothers and their babies. By increasing detection of syphilis infections, we might be able to reduce deaths tenfold. “

To make this possible, Sia and his team developed a small scale version of a device that can diagnose and is compatible to a smartphone. The device is connected to an android phone which would only take as minimal power as its battery could supply. Through this, the inconvenience of diagnostics from hospitals is then resolved , instead the portable  device can now be brought to any distant areas to have people tested where there is scarcity of funds and few healthcare services to obtain.

The device is just similar to a kind of blood test known as ELISA which include different applications that indicate infectious and chronic diseases, hormonal imbalances and vitamin deficiencies.  To operate the device is the same as diabetics would test their blood sugar. A drop of blood from a prick of a needle is all that it takes and the result is almost instant.

An instruction will then tell the user what to do and the Columbia device will show the result in less than 15 minutes.

Healthcare workers were taught on how to use the device and they were able to master it in just 30 minutes. They were able to test 96 patients who appear to have HIV and syphilis.

Using the device is a lot cheaper than the standard equipment. Sia calculated that the device would only take $34 to produce while the ELISA machine costs $18,450. It sure does benefit every developing countries as much as the first world.

It’s much cheaper than traditional equipment. Sia estimates that the device would cost about $34 to manufacture, compared with the $18,450 price tag of an ELISA machine. That’s good for developing countries, as well as the First World.

“We are interested in both global health applications and consumer health applications back home,” Sia told CBS News. “There is a tremendous potential to decrease healthcare costs by taking routine testing out of hospitals, into pharmacies and people’s homes.”


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