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Handheld Medical Devices - The Next Revolution in Healthcare?

Introduction

Handheld devices are light-weight and compact devices that can be operated holding it in your hands. Handheld medical devices are available for medical information, used by physicians, and medical diagnosis, used by both physicians and patients.

 

Handheld medical devices resemble a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other similar devices with hardware and software capable of diagnosing medical conditions, storing prescription and laboratory information. They are powered by batteries and are powerful enough to replace many bulky standard medical devices conventionally used in healthcare facilities.

 

Handheld medical devices can revolutionize healthcare as they have the potential to lower overall healthcare costs, encourage self-monitoring and improve physician-patient communications. This leads to patients more actively involving in their own healthcare.

 

Usage & Applications

The basic handheld medical devices are digital medical dictionaries that also include signs, symptoms, alerts, laboratory and diagnostic studies, and treatment procedures for various medical conditions. They help physicians avoid fatal or critical mistakes by alerting them to contraindicated medical treatments or possible medication interactions for certain medical conditions.

 

Handheld medical devices are excellent tools for physicians to make differential diagnosis and to suggest prescription medications based on the diagnosis. However, they cannot completely replace diagnostic studies and physical examination of the patient.

 

Claros Diagnostics has developed a handheld device called mChip, which tests for prostate cancer, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases by performing intricate medical tests using a microchip. It uses a drop of blood from the patient and produces accurate results within quarter of an hour, drastically reducing the time and diagnostic analysis required in conventional systems.

 

Mobile phones, especially Smartphone’s, are quickly replacing traditional handheld medical devices. Smartphone’s are coming equipped with a variety of medical apps (software programs) and specialized accessories making handheld medical devices even more pervasive while further cutting down the cost of personal healthcare. This technology is known as mobile health or simply mHealth.

 

Risks & Drawbacks

Although handheld medical devices seem to revolutionize healthcare in myriad ways, care must be taken by patients not to be their own doctor especially given the amount of accurate information at their disposal. Similarly, physicians should guard against excessive dependence on such devices in their practice as they still cannot completely replace traditional healthcare approaches and medical diagnosis.

 

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I have heard about similar technology which was termed as Body Area Network. It consists of small electronic devices which can be implanted in the human body. These devices will keep track of all vital information about the patient and act accordingly.

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