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Cell Phone Medicine Update

October 9, 2013

Using mobile phones for medical purposes, a new frontier when we reported on it in 2008, has become a huge field.



Smartphone medicine. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Jane Miller/DFID)

In 2008, Science Update first reported on using mobile phones as medical tools. Since then, the field, now known as mHealth, has exploded. Larry Chang is Associate Director of the Global mHealth Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. They’re working on over eighty projects in a dozen different countries*. In India, for example, smartphones walk health care workers through a screening test for oral cancer. Then, the screener can take pictures of the patient’s mouth.

LARRY CHANG (Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative):

And then these images are sent back to a central facility, or to experts in the States, to evaluate to see if there are any suspicious lesions, which are concerning for oral cancer, and based upon that the patient can be triaged in different ways.


Other projects in in the initiative use smartphones to track malaria in Zambia, manage immunizations in Bangladesh, and monitor water quality in the Amazon. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

*This sentence was corrected post-production.