Blog: Can Camera Phones Aid Diagnosis?

Fri, 09/10/2010 - 5:53am
Iltifat Husain

Dr. Neal Sikka, an Emergency Medicine physician at George Washington University, has a six-month study underway examining how accurately Emergency Medicine practitioners at George Washington University Hospital can diagnose wounds from patient generated cell phone images. Sikka told the Washington Post that it’s currently the largest (mobile health) study to look at acute wound care.

The study’s methods: Researchers recruit people who have arrived at the hospital with cuts, skin infections, rashes and other flesh wounds. Patients use their own camera phones to document their injuries. After filling out a questionnaire about their medical history and symptoms, they send the images to a secure e-mail account. All images are downloaded and stored on a secure hard drive.

“We’ll look at their picture along with the questionnaire and make a diagnosis,” Sikka said. Researchers use a PC to zoom in and focus on specific parts of the photo. Then the doctor will see the patient to see if the cellphone diagnosis was accurate.

Sikka says that so far the results have been encouraging, with approximately 90 percent of the diagnoses being accurate.

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