How Smartphones Can Do Almost Everything Your Doctor Can, But Not Quite

For most of time medicine was a complete guessing game. Doctors, or witch doctors, or shaman would inspect a patient, stir a potion and hope it would work. With some notable exceptions, modern medicine isn’t so different. Collecting things like blood pressure, heart rate, weight, reflexes is largely rudimentary. We’re getting by, but technology can take us so much further. Even the technology found on a smartphone.
In the past few years iPhones and iPads have become a fixture in doctors’ offices around the world. Why carry a clipboard when you could pull up records via Wi-Fi and type the information directly into the patient’s medical record? New smartphone-based technology is starting to change the way medicine works in America and elsewhere. See a doctor toting around an iPad instead of a clipboard is not uncommon, nor is seeing a dermatologist use a smartphone camera to monitor potential skin cancers.
While an app can’t cure a disease, some of the newer, more experimental medical apps can do truly extraordinary things. This technology can not only help you feel better; it can prevent illness by spotting symptoms early on. There are several blood pressure apps, but the iHealth kit stormed on to the scene a couple of years ago, introducing most of the world to the medical capabilities of the iPhone. Another app called Doctor Mole will help you monitor the grown and progress of your moles. For overall wellness and symptomatology, try iTriage, an app built by doctors for patients.
Back in 2009, when Apple first announced accessory support for iPhone OS, it proposed an at-home medical device capable of sending data to doctors. Since then we’ve seen specialized apps that do everything from checking your weight to your blood sugar levels, and everything in between. One of the most robust products on the market is called Epocrates. It’s not just one app but a whole suite of specialized resources everything from pictures of pills to links to labs.
As for the features beyond a smartphone’s screen, the data collected by its guts can be pretty powerful in a doctor’s hands. The phone’s gyroscope is sensitive to movement so it could sense record how much a patient’s moving and wrist-based devices like the once problematic Jawbone UP can monitor your movement and sleep patterns. You could also imagine how even the phone’s microphone or an enhanced accessory could work three times better than a stethoscope. You can even monitor your heart with apps like AliveCor. And of course, what’s really incredible about all of these tools is the sheer quantity of data they collect, data doctors can use to diagnose diseases.
So even though smartphones can do all of these amazing things there’s one reason they can’t replace your doctor: you are not a doctor. No matter how many fancy health apps you have in your phone, unless you’ve been to medical school, you should avoid trying to self-diagnose diseases. There’s a strong chance you’ll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety about an illness you might not even have.
An iPhone may be extremely valuable for tracking symptoms and knowing when it’s time to visit your oncologist. However, no matter how intelligent a computer may be, it can never replace the intuition and experience of a real human being. That said, even doctors acknowledge that smartphones are changing the game and the technology is only getting better.
Source: Gizmodo