Thursday, November 26, 2009

Medical Imaging via Cell Phone

With thanks to Israel 21C there is a report of yet another great innovation that I am sure will become standard equipment in the future.

In the Western world, we take for granted high-tech tools for physicians and hospitals such as the handheld ultrasound wand that displays the heartbeat of a fetus or detects a tumor. But how would you use that same device in a remote village in Africa where there isn’t even any electricity?

Boris Rubinsky, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has come up with a novel concept: blend the wand with a cell phone. The phone powers the medical imaging device, then transmits the resulting data to a central processing facility – perhaps even in Israel - where it’s turned into an image which can then be messaged back to the village physician’s phone.

The entire process is not unlike the trend in medicine in recent years where X-rays taken in the US are sent overseas for review and then returned via the Internet – saving money and time (for example when it’s daytime in Israel, it’s still night in the US when radiologists may not be so readily available).

Rubinsky’s life saving gadget is still just in the prototype stage but it has a promising future (and Rubinsky has the patents to back it up). Next in line: Rubinsky is working on a gadget that will extract small amounts of electricity from potatoes – just enough to charge a cell phone in those same far flung third world villages.

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