Smart Phone MD

SPARKS, NV - Cooper is the two-year-old son of Sparks resident Annie Sandoval. He's a hand full these days with his dinosaurs and airplane, but by all accounts perfectly healthy.

But on Christmas Eve of 2009 he developed a rash on his face. Annie, a type one diabetic caused by a virus, was put on alert.

“I didn't know exactly what Coxsackie virus looked like. I know slap in the face disease. I personally had it when I was little and that's what they think caused….might have triggered my diabetes. I took a picture and sent it to my mom and asked her,” says Annie.

Annie still wanted answers but she knew her own doctor wouldn't be available on the holiday, so she sent it to what she thought was the next best thing, her medical school brother.

“Just wanted to get it in the moment and just took a picture and sent it to him, he said doesn't look like it,” says Annie.

“We actually do quite a bit,” says Dr. Daniel Spogen when asked about using cell phone pictures to make a diagnosis.

Spogen is the Chairman of the Family Medicine Department at the University Of Nevada School of Medicine. He says he likes the idea of parents taking pictures of their childrens' symptoms and bringing them to him at the time of an office visit. The reason is simple.

“These rashes come and go and if you don't know what they look like its hard to know what the rash was. So if they can actually bring in a picture at its worse, you have a pretty good idea of what you are dealing with,” says Dr. Spogen.

Cell phone pictures can improve a diagnosis, but they can also save on medical costs and time when used appropriately.

But with all the applications available they can also help keep medical conditions in check. 10 months ago, Sandoval started using her phone to log her daily sugar levels.

A marked improvement in those levels has resulted.

And Annie can print these graphs out and take them with her to her next doctor's appointment--
giving a whole new meaning to the words "cell" phone.

As with all new technology, we don’t know the full spectrum of cell phone use and what it can do for a proper medical diagnosis.

Questions like security privacy, liability, ethics, as well as the true technical quality of the images will all probably be answered the more and more these phones are used in medicine.

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