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Smartphones offer lifesaving support

Smartphones are facilitating a revolution in healthcare – proving particularly useful as monitoring tools.

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) have pioneered a mobile lab for phones capable of achieving accuracy comparable to clinical labs – that detects ‘common viral and bacterial infections’.

(l-r) WSU Professor Lei Li and graduate student Yu-Chung Chang testing ‘smartphone that detects 12 common viral and bacterial infectious diseases’ – credit: WSU

The WSU portable smartphone reader performs almost as well as standard tests in picking up a dozen common infectious diseases, like measles and herpes. During testing of 771 patient samples at the Hospital University of Pennsylvania it was between 97% to 99.9% accurate.

“This smartphone reader has the potential to improve access and speed up healthcare delivery. If we find out about infections, we can treat them more quickly, which makes a difference especially in low-resource, remote areas,” explained Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

It is just the latest example of how the medical world is harnessing smartphone technologies. We have also seen examples of them being used to monitor people at risk of having a stroke, in tackling mental heath issues, and to screen for pancreatic cancer.

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