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May 09, 2006

Connected Healthcare: the pre-existing wearable computer

This is how Don Jones, VP of Business Development in Healthcare for Qualcomm, described the phenomenon of ubiquitous cell phone usage.

I don't think anyone can disagree with this, but they still haven't imagined not only what's in store, but what's available now for personal management of medical conditions.

He said that when mobile video telephony is cheap, the value of the cell phone as a medical diagnostic device will increase.

And, with E911 capability, location sensitivity will allow location of the person who needs medical attention.

When the modified cell phones are already out that act as peak flow meters, there are some amazaing devices such as continuous glucose monitoring devices, and something he called wireless bandaids. These are sensors that attach to the skin as with regular bandaids but will provide data wirelessly to the cell phone. In all these models, the cell phone acts as the intermediary to either display or record information, or as a gateway to send the data to another repository.

There is a handheld device that is capable of using ultrasound imaging, designed to monitor the patency of the carotids. There is a 12-lead ECG bandaid that will interface with a cell phone. There is speculation that such a monitor could detect the onset of a coronary event 15 minutes before it become clinicallly apparent.

He talked about a NIH-funded project where electronic pill bottle, manage again by the cell phone, would dispense meds at a regular schedule and record if the meds were taken. In this way, it also serves as reminder or compliance tool.

The Germany company Biotronik has a product that is provided to cardiac patient who leave the step-down unit with an implanted defribrillator. Vocel is working on using the Pill Book on a mobile phone and marketing it as the "Pill Phone" as a means to help the public decipher the necessary information about the meds they are taking.

I wish that this were all presented on the Qualcomm Web site which doesn't seem to say much of anything of the medical applications of a smartphone, but certainly this doesn't reflect the enthusiam I noticed in the crowd about the prospects of these devices.

He said that he had a bagful of cell phones modified to act as glucometers where you could place the test strip directly into the side of the phone and record the results. There was such a rush of people from the audience, I decided to take his word for it.

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