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At the beginning of February, we covered the increasing flurry of uptake of tele-healthcare applications for the iphone, which utilised the functions of the phone as a mobile diagnostic and analysis computing centre.
Since then, the trend has continued, with several new applications aimed squarely at health professionals, emerging. Phones based on Google's Android, with similar capabilities to the iPhone, have also been getting in on the act. About the only potential problem with this flurry of remote healthcare, is that apps for the Android are not directly compatible with those for the iPhone.
Thankfully, the medical data itself, is. 2009 increasingly looks to be the first year for increasingly sophisticated health monitoring, reference and diagnostic tools for health professionals on the go.
iChart EMR displaying lab results
iChart EMR is a good attempt at turning an iphone into a medical personal digital assistant, explicitly designed for health professionals by health professionals. It allows allowing medical staff to manage patient history on their iPhone, in much the same way they manage it on the pc.
A list of patients is stored on the device, searchable by surname, and possessing a digital photo for each - either transferred on, or taken with the phone's in-built camera. The software allows for weach patient, the storage of lab results in DICOM or PACs format, supporting a fairly comprehensive variety of blood workup results, and chemical formulae in its diagnostic results tab (illustrated). These results are simply phoned in from the hospital, streaming over the net, to update the doctor, rather than waiting for them to arrive via post.
A separate tab lists the medication the patient is currently taking, in crisp and clean format, allowing the doctor to update the records then and there, via two-way communication with the hospital, again, no waiting. The database dredges up images alongside the medication, matching to the name, to show the doctor, nurse, or other health professional at a glance, exactly what these drugs look like - tablet, powder, drops, inhaler, etc, and an actual photograph of the type being taken.
This section also has the functionality to search a database of drugs, to find the full list of side effects, for any individual one.
The other two tabs include individual patient history, and a notes section for adding new notes to that record.
When a larger health PC is accessible, the iPhone is plugged straight into it, immediately syncing records, allowing for the biometrically approved PC to print prescriptions, directly from iChart's data, for example. Alternatively, encrypted data can be sent over the net, in smaller bursts.
Anvita Health's mobile Viewer for Google Health
Functioning on Android phones on the other hand, is Anvita Health's mobile interface for Google Health. With the new application, patients and their physicians can have real time access to electronic medical records stored by Google.
The Anvita Mobile Viewer enables users of Google Health to view their Google Health profile data from Android phones, which do not include the iPhone at this time. It is both for medical professionals, and for patients. It gives access to health records only, with no diagnostic or analytical functions. A full medical history, current medication, current illnesses, notes, X-ray and CT data, which can be forwarded on to friends as jpegs if so desired. They are nominally stored in DICOM or PACS format, as required by the hospitals. The viewer transfers them to the phone in their native formats, and all conversion to a standard picture is performed by Google itself. The phone merely views it.
This allows the viewer to run on phones with relatively little processing power of their own. A cameraphone is not required; the only necessity for the moment, is that the phone's base uses the Android operating system.However, Anvita have announced they intend to migrate their product to the iPhone at an as-yet undisclosed future date.
The trend in increasing telehealthcare via mobile phones with increasing computational power is not showing any signs of slacking off. Already at time of writing, several hundred additional iPhone applications exist for healthcare purposes. However, the great bulk of these are aimed towards the patient, not the health practicioner. These do not typically interface with a patient's official health records, unlike those listed here. As the penetration of Android and iPhone devices continues to increase, we may well be seeing the start of a long-overdue telehealth revolution.
Resource List: Phone Based Telehealth for Health Professionals
Following the trends 2008-2009 in developing healthcare applications, diagnosis, analysis and healthcare provision based on mobile phones, their connectivity and computing power.
Anvita Health Unveils Mobile Viewer For Google Health
iChart iPhone App Awarded 2009 Hot Product by Medical Records Institute
iChart EMR Takes Award, Delivers Clinical Info to the Finger Tips
Mobile Interface for Google Health Download