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Talking up a new role for cell phones in telemedicine
Date:5/5/2008

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2008 After launching a communications revolution, cell phones are talking up a potentially life-saving new role in telemedicine the use of telecommunications technology to provide medical diagnosis and patient care when doctors and patients are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. Researchers in the United States and Brazil describe development of a simple, inexpensive telemedicine system that uses ordinary cell phone cameras to collect medical data from patients and transmit the data to experts located offsite for analysis and diagnosis.

The system is ideal for developing countries or remote areas lacking advanced medical equipment and trained medical specialists, the researchers say. The system can also transmit urgent medical data from battlefields, disaster zones, and other dangerous locations, they say. The study is scheduled for publication in the May 15 issue of the American Chemical Societys Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

The key to a successful medical treatment is a quick, accurate diagnosis of disease. But some areas, particularly in developing countries, lack access to advanced medical equipment and trained medical personnel that are required for a speedy diagnosis. A better, more practical system for conducting medical analysis in these remote areas is needed.

Enter cell phones: The popular, inexpensive devices are owned by almost 3 billion users worldwide, or roughly half the worlds population. Millions of new cell phone users are added each year in countries such as Africa, India, China, and South America. When equipped with cameras, the ubiquitous devices can conceivably be used in remote areas as the eyes and ears of doctors without the need for an on-site visit.

The cellular communications industry is, and will continue to become, a global resource that can be leveraged for detecting disease, says study leader George M. Whitesides, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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