New mHealth App to Fight Disease in the Developing World

Colorimetrix, a new smartphone app, could serve as a health care game changer in developing nations.  The app, which was developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, measures color based saliva or urine tests through the phone’s camera. The user takes a picture of a test strip that has been placed in the solution, and the app uses an algorithm to transmit the results into a readable number.  Results can then be sent to healthcare providers or specialists for analysis in real time.

This app has the potential to transform the current means of patient screening.  It provides quick, low-cost and portable diagnostics that can be transferred to medical professionals around the globe within seconds.  Patients are also able to monitor chronic conditions, such as diabetes, with this app. Also, because patients are able to transmit results information so quickly, Colorimetrix may be able to slow or limit the spread of pandemic diseases by communicating with community healthcare professionals.  “This app has the potential to help in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world, bringing the concept of mobile healthcare to reality,” said Ali Yetisen, a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology.

There are some major strengths to this app, the main one being how quickly it can connect patient data to physicians to interpret the results. This would cut down on hospital expenses, empower patients, and allow for less waiting time in health clinics.  On the other hand, systemic healthcare problems and technological capacity within many developing nations may inhibit this app from reaching its full potential.  Lack of trained healthcare providers to interpret results and low bandwidth in developing countries may pose barriers to the adoption of this app.

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