Sunday, March 22, 2015

Simple Solutions developed to fight Global Healthcare Problems

Unfortunately, we still face a world full of challenges in regards to healthcare. There are several countries where huge populations suffer from little-to-no infrastructure leading to tortured access to care and poor delivery. However, one can see many technology endeavours attempting to narrow the inequality between developed and developing countries.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, researchers at Columbia University have developed a chip that can analyze a drop of blood from a finger prick and when plugged into a smartphone test for HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes. The research team believe that this technology could be manufactured for at least $34. The smartphone accessory is small enough to fit in one’s hand and easily powered. This is especially suitable for places like Rwanda, where they already conducted a trial to test for HIV.
Jana Care, based in Newton - MA, in partnership with Continuum, an innovation and design consultancy company, developed another great example of technology trying to narrow the existing healthcare difference around the globe. It’s called Aina: a glucometer, that plugs into the headphone jack of a smartphone and checks blood glucose levels. It was initially developed for a certain socioeconomic lifestyle in India. However, since diabetes is a growing epidemic in emerging countries, the technology could be used in other parts of the world. Diabetes is an expensive and difficult disease to manage. So Jana Care “has created a program by which it offers disease management skills to patients through an interactive reality TV show, mobile app for diet and exercise tracking and support from diabetes educators.”
It’s exciting to see simple solutions tackling big global healthcare problems.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mobile Medical Apps and the FDA’s Regulations

Last month, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued final guidelines regarding mobile health apps regulations. The agency stated that it would not regulate apps that don’t threaten users if they fail. The mobile apps that pose a threat are the ones that would ““transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device by using attachments, display screens, sensors or other such methods,” said the FDA. The guidance reinforce their intentions to not regulate technologies that receive, transmit, store and display data from medical devices.
The guidelines came a few weeks after the FDA authorized the first set of mobile health apps, “including one that allows the remote monitoring of glucose levels in people with diabetes. The application allows real-time data sharing from a continuous glucose monitor via an iPhone.” The agency also approved a mobile app that aims to diagnose head injuries on the battlefield, which was developed by AnthroTronix for the US Department of Defense with funding from the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and a Rapid Innovation Fund award by the US Army.

The FDA’s acknowledgment on this matter represents, not only an achievement for the medical app industry, but an accomplishment for the healthcare workers and patients. The two previous examples prove how an app can help the medical industry. In the United States, more than 60% of the population owns a smartphone. In Brazil, 84% of the population has a mobile phone and about 36% of which have a smartphone. In the medical profession, this number is even higher. In Brazil there are some legislative peculiarities that prevent several advances, such as telemedicine.