THE BEST MEDICINE

HOW THE IPHONE IS AID­ING MED­I­CAL RE­SEARCH

iPhone Life Magazine - - Life + Tech - BY JIM KARPEN

pos­si­ble to go into com­mu­ni­ties in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and quickly iden­tify those who need treat­ment. This could have an es­pe­cially pro­found im­pact on preg­nant women, Sia said.

“We know that early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment in preg­nant moth­ers can greatly re­duce ad­verse con­se­quences to both moth­ers and their ba­bies,” Sia said.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Na­ture Jour­nal of Science, if a test cor­rectly iden­ti­fies just 70–80 per­cent of those in­fected and 70–80 per­cent who aren't, one-tenth as many peo­ple may die.

THE AD­VAN­TAGES OF AN IPHONE IN DI­AG­NOS­ING HIV

The re­searchers at Columbia, who have been work­ing on a mo­bile ver­sion of a di­ag­nos­tic lab since 2007, re­al­ized they could keep costs down by pig­gy­back­ing on a smart­phone.

They could use the phone's com­put­ing power to crunch the data and pro­vide an easy-to-use in­ter­face for med­i­cal work­ers.

“The team de­vel­oped the don­gle to be small and light enough to fit into one hand,” said Sia. “We were able to show that com­pli­cated lab-based blood tests can run on a small smart­phone ac­ces­sory. The ac­ces­sory per­forms the me­chan­i­cal and op­ti­cal mea­sure­ments, while the smart­phone pro­vides a sim­ple user in­ter­face and com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­ity.”

The de­vice plugs into the head­phone jack and not only sends data to the phone via this port, but also uses it to pro­vide power to the don­gle. The re­searchers used an iPod touch for their trial run and found that they could do 41 tests be­tween charges. Of course, the latest iPhones would likely last much longer.

The phone's bat­tery pow­ers the op­ti­cal and me­chan­i­cal mea­sure­ments that take place in the don­gle. At this point, the don­gle sends the data to the smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tion, which presents the re­sults. Train­ing the health work­ers to com­plete this process takes only a half hour.

The app in­cludes a user-friendly in­ter­face to aid the work­ers through each test, of­fer­ing step-by-step pic­to­rial di­rec­tions and built-in timers for each step. It also stores records of test re­sults so they can be viewed later.

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