Pathology testing and smartphones

Smartphones and other mobile computing devices are becoming increasingly common around the world. People are using the computing power in them for more and more things apart from making phone calls. It is not too surprising then that pathology testing and smart phones are coming together.

Two new devices have recently been described. The first is the iBGStar blood glucose monitor for iPhone and iPod touch, manufactured by Sanofi Diabetes which has now gained clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration, making it the first blood glucose meter that directly connects to the iPhone and iPod touch. The iBGStar blood glucose meter and iBGStar Diabetes Manager App, will be available in the United States. It has already been available in the United Kingdom for some time but is not yet available in Australia.

According to the company, the iBGStar system consists of a glucose monitor that attaches to an iPhone or iPod Touch via the 30-pin dock connector. The app is designed to track glucose, insulin, and carbohydrates, and it charts individualized glucose patterns over time. Data can be emailed to healthcare professionals as needed.

The second device has been developed by researchers from the department of electrical engineering at the University of California Los Angeles. This is small device that automates reading of test strips that change colour when used in a test. These simple tests are usually read by eye and can be used to test for a variety of things. The researchers are interested in the test strips for infectious diseases such as HIV, syphilis, malaria and tuberculosis.

The device clips on to either an Apple or Android smart phone and uses the phone camera as a reader to determine if the test is positive or negative. After this step, the device uses the phone to transmit the results of the tests to a global server, which processes them, stores them and, using Google Maps, creates maps charting the spread of various diseases and conditions- both geographically and over time- throughout the world. If enough of these devices are in place around the world, then public health authorities can use the information to plan responses very early in the development of a disease outbreak.

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