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Hot in CHEST August 2013

By: Deep Ramachandran, MBBS

Health-care technology advocates have long been preaching about the potential of smartphones and other types of disruptive technology to improve health-care delivery. We in organized medicine have been slow to answer the call. Studies that showcase the ability of these tools in major medical journals are rare.  However, in the August issue of CHEST, we see a welcome addition to the medical literature.

Researchers taught patients with COPD to create daily symptom diaries on smartphones (BlackBerry 8700s).  The results were uploaded to a research server and the program alerted staff when certain predetermined criteria were met. Using the data, researchers were able to accurately and quickly identify patients who were having an exacerbation. They were also able to collect data on both the timing and length of the exacerbation.

This has exciting implications. Perhaps this kind of data could be used to help patients with severe symptoms prevent hospitalizations or to serve as a measure of response in clinical trials. The possible applications are numerous.

Though there is one aspect of this study that, as a tech geek, leaves me ambivalent. Should I be excited that even an obsolete smartphone could prove to be so useful? Or depressed that even an obsolete smartphone is far ahead of current medical technology?

How does this study make you feel about using smartphone apps in health care?

  1. Excited that there is so much potential.
  2. Sad that medical technology is so far behind.
  3. Smartphones are for finding directions, not for health care.

Weigh in on our Facebook poll.

Deep Ramachandran, MBBS is a pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine physician, and CHEST Social Media Co-Editor. He also blogs at CaduceusBlog.