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Smartphones to aid disease diagnoses in remote areas

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Smartphones can aid healthcare workers to diagnose, track and control infectious diseases in low-income countries, a study has suggested. Smartphones could also help people to test themselves and get results making it easier for them to look after their health, particularly in rural areas where clinics are far away, said the study.

People can make use of apps that employ the phone’s camera to interpret test results, send them to local clinics or healthcare workers before being uploaded to a central online database. The apps can also host virtual follow-up appointments with healthcare workers, according to the study published in the journal Nature.

“By developing mobile health interventions, we address a number of challenges in healthcare and public education. Connected diagnostic tests for diseases have the ability to improve and build on these in new and exciting ways,” said Chris Wood from Imperial College London.

In addition, patients worried about a potential HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection might be more inclined to get tested if they could do it at home and avoid the stigma of attending a clinic.

As global smartphone adoption is predicted to keep growing, safety measures must be put in place to protect privacy and confidentiality of patient data, the team said.

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