With medicine becoming ever-more complex, it is becoming more and more difficult for physicians, even specialists to keep up with advances in medicine. Additionally, the need to stay up-to-date is essential to make diagnoses and provide effective treatment. For example, the National Cancer Institute reports a 100 percent five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer detected at Stage 0 and Stage 1 and a 93 percent five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer diagnosed at Stage 2. Therefore, it is relevant for physicians to be up to date with literature and the newest guidelines.
Here is a look at some of the latest and most unexpected tech helping doctors diagnose their patients:
It should come as no surprise that the medical community has capitalized on the power and portability of smartphones to create powerful diagnostic tools. For example, Withings has developed a wireless blood pressure monitor that allows precise measurement of your blood pressure using just a cuff and a smartphone. Having received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, this tool allows patients to keep their doctors up to date on their blood pressure with just the click of a button, and this allows doctors to more accurately judge the effectiveness of the treatment.
Another device that stands to change the world of diagnostics is the NETRA, an inexpensive eyepiece that clips onto any smartphone and can be used to detect farsightedness, astigmatism and nearsightedness. Portable and simple to use, NETRA allows users to look through the lens and click buttons to adjust a blurry image. The number of clicks helps determine the refractive error of the patient’s eye, which isn’t bad for a device that only costs two dollars.
Wearable technology is perhaps one of the most exciting frontiers in diagnosis. For example, the Oxitone can continuously measure a person’s heart rate or oxygen saturation by simply being worn on the wrist. It is often used in sleep studies since it eliminates the need for a bank of equipment.
While this might seem futuristic, the truth is that smartwatches are readily available to consumers through companies like T-Mobile. Wearable devices enable doctors to spot potential indicators of illness before they evolve into something worse. And, in some cases, these wearable devices can even monitor a patient’s heart remotely and send emergency alerts if something unexpected happens. This real-time, streaming data allows doctors to better manage patients by giving them access to real biological data instead of a patient’s interpretation or recall of past events.
Smartphones are simply hardware, and, in many cases, it is the software that makes all the difference for a doctor. Luckily, there are many apps geared toward this very need. For example, UpToDate is a continuously updated knowledge database for medical professionals that includes tools specifically created to aid in point-of-care diagnosis and management. This app is edited and updated by a team of physicians to ensure that it is rigorously maintained.
Similar in scope, MedScape Mobile provides clinicians with a comprehensive set of diagnostic tools designed to help in decision making at the point of care. MedScape provides breaking medical news and educational resources that help doctors keep their diagnostic abilities sharp.
This is just a tip of the iceburg, so-to-say, in the realm of technologies that can impact point-of-care medicine. Future development and integration of such technologies is key to the transformation of medical care in the era of cost-conscious care.