Smart Device Technology in Medicine


By April Bailey

When most people think about using their phone or tablet, they immediately think of downloading applications designed for gaming, productivity or social purposes. In the field of medicine, however, a combination of smart devices and apps, often referred to as eHealth or mHealth, is being used to make monitoring patient conditions easier. This app-based blend of monitoring and reporting attempts to keep the process convenient to the patient while being well-managed by the medical professional.

Less Pain at the Patient Level

One product example is an interesting up-and-coming device for diabetic patients. First, consider that diabetics have to check their sugar levels daily using needles and glucose monitors. This involves multiple needle sticks to obtain blood samples — something that becomes quite painful. Unlike the traditional method, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on a new way to check and monitor glucose via a "tattoo." The patient receives a special tattoo with ink containing fluorescing nanoparticles that reflect infrared light back through the skin. Then, a specially-designed scanner "reads" their implant, at which time data is fed back to an app on a smartphone or tablet. The app then generates a report for the patient and their medical provider.

Medical Professionals Discover Mobility 

Medical professionals are finding more and more uses for eHealth products. Another remarkable option is the mobile ultrasound. Typically the term "mobile ultrasound" refers to a small unit on a wheeled cart. Soon, this term will represent something entirely different. For example, by using smartphone technology (with the internal functionality of satellite signaling) plus a custom app built to actually perform ultrasounds, the MobiUS™ SP1 app created by Mobisante allows the full breadth of functionality of a traditional ultrasound machine in a pocket-sized device that can be carried and used anywhere in the world.

App Breaks Boundaries 

Blending these technologies is especially advantageous to developing countries. It allows medical professionals who visit remote or underdeveloped areas to bring medical devices with them that they once couldn't — all in an effort to provide better health care on a global basis.

Classroom Discussion

  • Name three apps that can be used to help doctors manage patient health.
  • What benefit would a patient have from using an eHealth app on a smart device?