Smartphones taking doctors’ jobs?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The CellScope is a simple gadget that allows people to check their ears at home!

Is it just me, or are routine check-ups the worst? After an hour of sitting around in the waiting room, the doctor finally finds the time to take a quick look at your eyes and ears, listen to heartbeats with his stethoscope (that metallic disc hanging around his neck), scribble down some quick notes, and then send you back home. The whole process takes barely 10 minutes and leaves patients wondering why this kind of basic check-up can’t just be done at home. Well, the days of waiting an hour beyond your appointment time may very well become nothing more than a bad memory! Take a look at some of the medical technologies that are coming to a smartphone near you…

As an individual who wears glasses, the Netra-G device is my one of my favorites. It uses a cheap pair of binoculars to measure how well eyeballs can focus light. This information is then sent to an app, which uses the data to determine how good or bad your vision is. Within minutes, a person can a have prescription for a brand new pair of glasses! There’s no more need to step foot into an optometrist’s office, have air blasted into your eyeballs, and wink while reading the letters projected on a wall.

Well, kids are only supposed to visit the eye doctor once a year anyhow, but what about… the ear? Parents make nearly 30 million appointments every year for their child’s ear infections! Listen up and get that earwax cleared out, because CellScope has created a special device that can zoom into the ear with ten times the magnification. The gadget looks just like the one doctors use in their office, only this one attaches to a regular iPhone. It can take pictures and upload them to the CellScope internet page, where parents can add notes about their child’s symptoms and send it to the family doctor. According to CellScope CEO Erik Douglas, this is enough data for medical professionals to make a diagnosis over the phone!

Well, an ear infection can be treated easily. All it takes is a few doses of medicine before most of them disappear! What about diagnosing something more serious, such as a heart defect? Not to worry, Dr. David Albert’s company, AliveCor, has created a nifty mobile case that transforms an iPhone into a electrocardiograph (ECG) machine – a device that records a heartbeat. Two sensors on the case monitor heart rhythm when it’s placed against a person’s chest and can recognize when something’s off. From there, it sends the information to the phone through an electric signal. The case only costs $100 and according to Albert, it’s a huge threat to many medical companies, who are used to profiting off of insanely expensive machines like ECGs.

With these amazing inventions, it seems like anyone can become their own doctor. As Netra-G co-founder Vitor Pamplona explains, “We’re changing medicine by providing the user the right to measure themselves. We see doctors as more of a coach.”

Featured image courtesy of Mike Btizenhofer on Flickr.