Many people can't imagine life without a mobile phone, and smartphone apps are taking over from pens as the new giveaway for everyone from patients to providers. Phone apps can do so much more than provide games to while away a tedious commute. They are moving into the diagnostics realm to make disease diagnosis more accessible, especially for people in remote locations.
The Remotoscope, a clip-on attachment and software app from Georgia Tech and Emory University, can help diagnose a toddler's ear infection by turning an iPhone into an otoscope. The parent or caregiver simply takes a picture or video and sends the information digitally to the doctor's office, forgoing long waits at emergency rooms and potentially reducing antibiotic use.
A phone app in development at Northwestern University, Mobilyze is designed to diagnose returning depression symptoms. The app learns the user's usual routines of email, surfing, calling, and texting and senses when changes indicate a return of low mood. It intervenes by suggesting a call or visiting friends, breaking potential thought and behavior patterns that could spiral back down into depression.
Phone apps aren't just for patients; they can help lab staff as well. Using the iPhone's camera to take a picture of completed TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) immunochromatographic assays, the app can diagnose hypothyroidism and help in the management of thyroid disease.