A Mom with a Samsung Smartphone Can Get Her Kids’ Ear & Nose Infections Diagnosed From Home

In the mountains of rural Taiwan, researchers stuck a $50 attachment to a Samsung smartphone that individuals can use at home to take images inside the nose or ear. When those images were transmitted to physicians’ offices, the physicians diagnosed with complete accuracy.

“Overtreatment of ear infections with antibiotics in preschoolers may cause antibiotic resistance and has caused millions of unnecessary visits and prescriptions for antibiotics in the United States,” they write. “…The smartphone-based otorhinoendoscope has the potential to change the doctor’s practice patterns of over utilizing antibiotics for ear infections. Currently, otolaryngologists can wait to see if a child’s infection improves or if antibiotic treatment is warranted after the series of clinical images are obtained from parents.” (More)

Comments (10)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    It’s amazing how many medical apps are coming out for the iPhone and the Android. Medicine is hardly a consumer market and it’s highly regulated. Yet, the push came — at least in part — from a ubiquitous device that many people carry with them.

  2. Linda Gorman says:

    I don’t like the marketing spin in the write-up.

    It prevents overtreatment of ear infections? Really?

    This device takes pictures of the kid’s throat so someone else can diagnose them, never mind that most experienced mothers can do that without an iPhone.

    Once you’ve diagnosed it you still have the problem of deciding what to do. It is clear that antibiotics help the majority of kids. Yes the infections will typically clear if one waits, but that has side effects as well, possibly even increasing the need to put tubes in ears later. Plus, one will probably have to drug a sick kid so that everyone can sleep.

  3. Trent says:

    People will need to be able to afford the phone first, and then with changing technologies it will get even more expensive.

  4. dve says:

    put one in every elementary school. let the school nurse get back into the game.

  5. Matthew says:

    I bet this this advancement would improve health care access in rural areas or developing areas, but the cost incurred on these areas would be high.

    • Bill B. says:

      I am sure a $50 endoscope wouldn’t be too out of the range of possibilities.

      • Matthew says:

        But you also have to factor in the cost of the phone. And the cost of a data plan to send these images to a doctor.

        • Bill B. says:

          I would argue that smartphones exist in places these would be useful in. In the grand scheme of access to health care, this endoscope could be very helpful.

  6. Jay says:

    “The researchers noted that the biggest problem in image quality was the lack of a way to stabilize the lightweight smartphone setup, which led to some blurry images.”

    I wonder if you can put different image filters on it as well.