Cameras on cell phones make handy diagnostic tools
Cameras on cell phones have proved to be a vital piece of medical equipment to doctors and healthcare workers who are based in remote and isolated locations, the Press Association news agency is reporting.
According to the results of a recent study, doctors can benefit from just a two megapixel mobile phone camera as it is able to capture clear microscopic images of infectious microorganisms.
The pictures can then be sent via email or SMS message to other doctors and specialists in hospitals and healthcare clinics around the world for a more thorough diagnosis and analysis.
The study, which was carried out in Uganda, concluded that the African continent was an ideal location for cell phone cameras to be used in this manner, as doctors are often working in remote, sparsely populated areas.
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During the research, images of a variety of bacteria were captured, including that of the malaria parasite.
In fact, the researchers said that in some cases, images of the malaria parasite gave the best diagnosis, as the images were of such a high quality “that specific stages of the malaria parasite could be identified.”
Samples of blood and urine were also sent for analysis via the cell phone images, as were pictures of the tuberculosis causing drugs.
Experts believe that using cameras on cell phones as a diagnostic tool will help to achieve a quicker diagnosis, meaning treatment would be more effective.
The study was led by Dr Coosje Tuijn from the Netherlands’ Royal Tropical Institute and the findings have been published in Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE), an online journal.
“Poor and vulnerable populations are most affected by weak laboratory services because they carry the largest burden of ill health,” the authors said.
“Connecting mobile technology to diagnosis has a considerable potential to improve diagnostic services in resource-poor settings with widely distributed and remote clinical centres.”
They added: “This field study proves that the concept works and that there is a demand from the end user and great interest from other stakeholders.”
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Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”