Are you old enough to remember the first Star Trek series? (Yes, I watched in reruns.) Remember when McCoy or Bones, as he was called, would take out his Tricorder and simply pass it over someone’s body, and he could tell you what was wrong with them? Well, these apps aren’t quite that sophisticated, but they are amazing! Some of them require additional equipment to turn your phone into a digital doctor, but medical applications are one of the fastest-growing segments of the digital applications market. Here’s just a taste of what you or your medical professional can do with a phone and a little cutting edge technology.
- iStethoscope allows you to hear your heartbeat on your iPhone and see your heart waveform based on the phone’s microphone.
- Electrocardiogram/EKG -AliveCor device attaches to the phone like a case and provides a single-lead EKG by placing one finger from each hand on the sensor-electrodes. It is FDA approved to record, display, store, transfer and even evaluate single-channel electrocardiogram rhythms ECGs.
- Blood pressure measurement devices like Withings or iHealth that include a dock and a blood pressure cuff, so you can use your phone to monitor your blood pressure.
- Spirometry-SpiroSmart can provide a measure of common lung function by measuring lip reverberation. (Yeah I know; told you this stuff was unreal!) This is helpful in monitoring asthma and COPD.
- Fundus exams- The iExaminer is an iPhone 4 attachment for Welch Allyn PanOptic opthalmoscope that lets your medical professional perform Fundus exams. For us non-medical professionals, that means the doctor can use his phone to examine your eyes.
Such innovations boggle the mind. Oh, and just in case you thought the Tricorder was pure science fiction, there is now a competition to create one. The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize is a $10 million global competition intended to create a diagnostic tool capable of recording key health metrics and diagnosing a set of at least 15 diseases. Ideally, it would be done through wireless sensors, imaging technologies and non-invasive laboratory replacements. Fascinating.