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This guest post from Katie Matlack (reposted from the free site Software Advice) launches a new section of “PM Tech.” This special branch of e-patient resources is gaining importance as smartphones and tablets become ever more mainstream. Devices that were once just toys for techies are now the favorite tools of many ex-technophobes — some who never used a computer before are now crazy about the iPad. And there are some great health care apps out there for e-patients.

The iPhone and iPad are changing the world of medical devices as we know it.

Thanks to their familiar interface, Web connectivity, and powerful
processing capabilities, with the right app and plug-in these iOS
devices can work as super smart medical devices that make sharing as
easy as the push of a touchscreen button. Consumers can now access
increasingly high-quality medical devices, making it easy to be more
actively engaged in their own health. And home and rural care givers
can benefit from the portability and versatility of iPad and iPhone
based devices.

Below I’ll discuss three examples of powerful iOS medical devices I’ve
found that already exist.

1) The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

French company Withings
[] developed this blood pressure monitor that features an app and a cuff that fits most average-sized people. Accurate data on your blood pressure can help you monitor hypertension, which can lead to serious consequences for your heart, brain and kidney. The Withings monitor can even work with an iPod Touch, and runs at $129. You can use the device to share your data with your doctor.

2) ECEM Pulse Oximeter

This device isn’t yet available to the masses, but given its utility I
imagine it will be soon. It features a small clip that attaches to
your fingertip. The clip beams a light through your fingertip to a
receiver on the opposite side; the amount of light received is used to
determine how much oxygen is saturated in your blood. Developed by the
Electrical and Computer Engineering in Medicine
[] research group together with the
Pediatric Anesthesia Research Team at the University of British
Columbia, it was originally created to help make anesthesia care safer
in the developing world, but can also be useful to patients with heart
of lung problems such as emphysema.

3) iBGStar Glucose Meter

From Sanofi-Aventis comes this glucose meter app and plug-in. The
glucose meter is a well-known device to anyone with diabetes. Today,
diabetics test blood sugar with needles and a clunky kit; the iBGStar
[] offers a small add-on to the iPhone that’s
said to give better, more accurate results. Plus, getting your data on
your iPhone means you can share it easily, and you can get reminders
on your iPhone when it’s time for another check.

For more discussion of the benefits of these iPhone and iPad based
devices, plus commentary on two more devices not discussed here and
commentary from an expert on medical devices, visit the Software
Advice blog for the original article.

4) iPhoneECG Electrocardiogram

This device has a simple setup: just snap a plastic case onto the back
of your iPhone and you’re ready to go. The case has two electrodes in
the back that, when you press the phone against bare skin of your
thumbs or–for a better reading–your chest, can measure and track
your pulse. It was built by Alivecor [] and Oregon
Scientific. It’s not perfect, since it admittedly gathers a limited
amount of data on your heartbeat, meaning it can’t quite compete
against a real ECG. But for e-patients looking to get a good look at
their heartbeat or caregivers looking for a quick diagnostic, it might
just do the trick.

5) MobiUS SP1 Ultrasound Imaging Device

OK, with a price tag of around $7,500, it’s still not quite a device
for the masses. But this ultrasound peripheral and program still runs
lots cheaper than traditional machines, and does serve as a step in
the road to democratizing access to patient information. Though the
device, from Mobisante [], doesn’t run on iOS
yet, I predict it will soon, since one major obstacle–the lack of a
USB port in an iPad or an iPhone–will be eliminated in the latest
upgrade to the iPad coming out soon. Wi-Fi and cell connectivity mean
images can be shared quickly from the device, meaning caregivers might
be able to more easily, frequently, or quickly share data with
patients about their joey in the pouch.


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