Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Using the iPhone for Cardiology

It's being done:
An EKG is one tool used to diagnose various cardiovascular conditions, including a heart attack or heart failure.

Within two minutes the EKG technologist will have loaded the test results onto a secure Web site at the hospital, the Picture Archiving Communication System.

The cardiologist is able to log in to the system from anywhere there is Internet access, including mobile connections such as iPhone. In the past, if the cardiologist was not at the hospital the alternative was to await a fax showing the graph of the electrical waves.

Quintana said he predicts more physicians will begin using the iPhone to aid in diagnoses, but cautioned against abandoning traditional technologies; he recommended a combination of all available tools.

“The interpretation of an EKG is based on patterns,“ he said.

“The field of view on an iPhone is smaller, so there’s a limitation there. It’s good for a quick diagnosis, but it’s not the final answer.”

The use of mobile technology such as the iPhone in medicine is not limited to cardiology.

Hospital officials said obstetricians and gynecologists can purchase an application to view wave forms; radiologists may read X-ray images or magnetic-resonance images; and the iPhone can even be used at bedside to help patients identify which medications they take.
Despite it's obvious advantages, some centers have been slow to adapt this approach because of the iPhone's security concerns. Still, doctors can't get such practical uses for mobile devices fast enough. One only has to look at the advantages of being able to snap a picture of a rhythm strip or pathological lesion and paste it into a medical record or send the image to a specialist to see the power of applying this technology to improve patient care.


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