Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones. The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.
CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of delivering real-time data to users’ cell phones and home computers-at any time. Data from the sensors can also be used to estimate air quality throughout the area where the devices are deployed, providing information to everyone – not just those carrying sensors…
“The people who are doing the most to reduce emissions, by biking or taking the bus, were the people who experienced the highest levels of exposure to pollutants,” said Griswold.
Users discovered that pollution varied not only based on location, but also on the time of the day. When Charles Elkan, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, drove into work in mid-morning, the readings on his sensor were low. But when he drove back home in rush hour in the afternoon, readings were sometimes very high….
- Small, Portable Sensors Allow Users to Monitor Exposure to Pollution on Their Smart Phones (terradaily.com)
- Small, portable sensors allow users to monitor exposure to pollution on their smart phones (phys.org)
- Monitoring Air Quality From Your Smart Phone (cleantechnica.com)
- Satellite Monitoring of Air Pollution in the World’s MegaCities (pollutionfree.wordpress.com)
- Building the Environmental Big Picture from Personal Air-Quality Monitors (spectrum.ieee.org)
Stay in the pink with Bluetooth personal health monitoring
Researchers in New Zealand have developed a prototype Bluetooth-enabled medical monitoring device that can be connected wirelessly to your smart phone and keep track of various physiological parameters, such as body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and movements. The prototype could be extended to include sensors for other factors such as blood glucose as well as markers for specific diseases. The connectivity would allow patients to send data directly to their healthcare provider and receive timely advice and medication suggestions….
- Health monitoring? There’s an app for that (physorg.com)
- First-look video: Wahoo Blue HR heart-rate monitor (gigaom.com)
- New iPad accessories with Bluetooth Smart inbound, first tablet with new tech (pocket-lint.com)
- Affordable, Wireless Blood Pressure and Glucose In-Home Monitoring (prweb.com)
Currently health apps do not have to pass any standards for scientific validity. In fact, some could be harmful!
This article gives an overview of current regulation and evaluation efforts by the government, medical societies, and others.
Excerpts from the Health Care Blog item Are Health Apps the Cure for Anything That Ails You?
With about 9,000 consumer health apps currently available in the iTunes store, it seems like almost all smart phone users can download their way to better health these days.
“Apple isn’t testing apps for their scientific validity,” said Dan Cohen, a social worker who has reviewed apps for their effectiveness.
Given the stakes, it’s no surprise that the government is starting to regulate these smart phone applications. Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission brought its first cases against the makers of two health apps. Each claimed to cure acne with colored lights emitted from cell phones.
“Smart phones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” the FTC chairman said, when announcing the crackdown. The agency cited the makers of AcneApp, which had sold about 11,600 downloads of its $1.99 app, and the developers of AcnePwner, which sold 3,300 downloads of its 99 cent app.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, proposed regulations this summer for apps that could be considered medical devices. The agency, which sought comments on its proposals until Oct. 19, may focus on apps that are accessories to established medical devices used by doctors, such as smart phone apps that can display X-rays.
It could also regulate apps that transform smart phones into medical devices by using sensors or other attachments. Already, the FDA has approved gadgets that turn smart phones into blood pressure-monitoring cuffs and pocket ultrasound machines.
Apps that connect to consumer devices, such as blood glucose meters, may be regulated, too, if the apps display or analyze the meters’ readings, the FDA says.
The majority of health apps will almost certainly not be considered medical devices and will escape government scrutiny. But some app developers are voluntarily going through the laborious FDA clearance process, in part, to convince the medical community that their products have real clinical value.
WellDoc, a Baltimore-based health care company, got FDA approval last year for its DiabetesManager, which provides automated diabetes coaching for patients. The app also was tested in a randomized clinical trial conducted by the University of Maryland’s medical school, which found that patients had a statistically significant improvement in their blood glucose levels after using the app for a one-year period.
Scientists have found flaws with other apps.
When a George Washington University professor conducted the first content analysis of behavior-modification apps, she discovered that few of the 47 smoking-cessation apps available in 2009 followed evidence-based health guidelines. Lorien Abroms, a public health professor, concluded that the apps had “serious weaknesses” because they did not link to quit lines or clinics or suggest ways for smokers to get social support from family and friends.
- Smartphone Apps Can’t Cure Acne (bellasugar.com)
- FDA Proposes Health ‘App’ Guidelines (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- FTC Charges mHealth Apps With False Advertising – No Scientific Evidence for Curing Acne So There’s Not An App for That (ducknetweb.blogspot.com)
- FTC Approves Final Settlement Orders Against Marketers Who Claimed Their Mobile Apps Could Cure Acne (ftc.gov)
- Should Mobile Medical Apps Require FDA Approval? (informationweek.com)
- FDA Review of Some Medical Apps May Be Increased (socialtimes.com)
- Is It Really FDA Approved? (everydayhealth.com)
- Mobile Medical Apps Supervision By FDA, Agency Seeking Input (medicalnewstoday.com)
- FTC: Smartphone apps do not cure acne (news.consumerreports.org)
- Can the iPad cure what ails us? (macworld.com)
- Apps for What Ails You (technologyreview.in)
- FDA will have a plan for healthcare mobile apps in 2012. In the meantime… (medcitynews.com)
This October 24th Popular Mechanics story includes
- How text messaging is used to coordinate health care by health care professionals in rural areas across long distances
- How text messaging in Haiti was used to locate victims in search and rescue efforts despite language barriers
- Camera phones as diagnostic aids
The notion that SMS could revolutionize healthcare first entered Nesbit’s mind in 2007, when he was still a Stanford undergrad. He’d just met Dickson Mtanga, a community health worker in rural Malawi who was walking 35 miles to deliver handwritten patient charts to the nearest hospital. Nesbit biked out to Mtanga’s village one day, only to discover that his cellphone got a better signal there than it did on Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif. All those bars of service jumped from the phone’s screen and slapped him across the face: These far-reaching GSM networks, he realized, could connect doctors and patients like never before.
Armed with a $5000 grant, a backpack full of old phones, and a laptop running a GSM modem and the open-source group-texting software called FrontlineSMS, Nesbit started working with the hospital and community health workers to coordinate patient care. The system they put in place allowed Mtanga and others to text in the information on those medical charts rather than making the hours-long trek. Patients could text their symptoms to doctors, cutting down on unnecessary visits for minor ailments and freeing up space for those in need of serious care. Within six months of the system going live, the number of patients being treated for tuberculosis doubled, more than 1200 hours in travel time were eliminated, and emergency services became available in the area for the first time. The operating costs in those six months: $500, Nesbit saysThe explosion of cellphone use around the world has inspired a flood of new ideas about how to use that tech to improve healthcare. Besides Nesbit’s Medic Mobile, there are also ideas to turn camera phones into cheap diagnostic tools for vision problems or malaria, for example.
Patty Mechael, executive director of the U.N. Foundation’s mHealth Alliance, keeps tabs on these new techs. They all face major infrastructure hurdles, such as the lack of reliable energy sources to power phone chargers in some developing countries. But another, less tangible challenge is figuring out what mobile health programs are actually working and worth scaling up, and which ones aren’t. “What we have in mHealth are millions of flowers blooming, in many ways. Lots of pilots are being done throughout the world, many of which are reaching populations of a few thousand each,” Mechael says. “We’re at a tipping point where people are starting to say, ‘Okay, we need to be a bit more strategic, collaborative, cohesive.’”
Nesbit is among the voices calling for a more focused approach to mobile health. A wave of angst washes over his face when I ask if there’s too much hype surrounding mobile health, if it’s too saturated of a field. Hype is good, he says. What’s bad is hype that’s disconnected from implementation. All the media coverage and promises made about mobile health in recent years, he says, make it seem as if millions of health workers in developing nations have already integrated their phones into their daily practice. In reality, only about 20,000 have done so. Medic Mobile has SMS systems operating in 14 countries, and that number will jump to 20 in the next six months. Only a few thousand people are using Medic Mobile’s programs today, but the nonprofit just rolled out its first SIM card application, which can be used on virtually every mobile phone in existence. By 2015, Nesbit expects to have 500,000 community health workers using SMS applications to link patients with doctors.
If he hits those numbers, ubiquity really will be the killer app.
- How Your Discarded Phone Can Improve Global Health (newser.com)
- BellVoz Launches a New Communication Service, Direct SMS, Allows Customers to Send International Text Messages from their Mobile Phone, at a Lower Cost (prweb.com)
- Mobile Medicine (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- How Mobile Phones Are Saving Lives in the Developing World (mashable.com)
team led by Ki Chon, professor and head of biomedical engineering at WPI, has developed a smart phone application that can measure not only heart rate, but also heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation using the phone’s built-in video camera. The new app yields vital signs as accurate as standard medical monitors now in clinical use. Details of the new technology are reported in the paper “Physiological Parameter Monitoring from Optical Recordings with a Mobile Phone,” published online, in advance of print, by the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.
- E-Medicine and Smart Phones Manage Chronic Illness (nextbigfuture.com)
I interviewed about 150 medical leaders just a few years ago for my book The Future of Medicine – Megatrends in Healthcare. Not one mentioned wireless devices as a coming megatrend. How fast the world changes! Nowadays everyone has a cell phone and we rarely stop to think that just two decades ago almost no one had them. We have a laptop or tablet computer that can access information from the web at very high rates of speed; again it is hard to remember when this wasn’t so. And those with smart phones have numerous “apps” – to check traffic conditions, find the nearest Starbucks, or play games. But these and other devices that use wireless technology will lead to major changes in the delivery of health care in the coming years. This is another of those coming medical megatrends.
Read the rest of Wireless devices will dramatically change how medicine is practiced on KevinMD.com.
- Unintended consequences of patient portals (kevinmd.com)
- Invasion of the Body Hackers? Wireless Medical Devices Susceptible to Attacks (tjantunen.com)
- Mobile Security Requires More Than Secure Wireless Devices (aviatnetworks.com)