What it is: A doctor used an iPhone along with an ultrasound device to detect his own cancer.
John Martin is a vascular surgeon who just became chief medical officer for a startup called Butterfly Network, which has produced a pocket-sized ultrasound device that works with the iPhone. To test out the ultrasound device, Dr. Martin decided to investigate his own throat, which was feeling uncomfortable lately.
The ultrasound device sent an image to his smartphone, which showed him a dark, three-centimeter mass. “I was enough of a doctor to know I was in trouble,” he says. It was squamous-cell cancer.
With the Apple Watch beginning to dominate the real-time health monitoring market, low-cost devices like an ultrasound, connected to a smartphone, can provide low-cost medical equipment to places around the world that can’t afford the expense or space to buy and store a much larger medical device. handheld medical devices, connected to smartphones, will likely become the norm and grow in popularity. The low-cost medical devices can give patients the chance to capture images of their own body parts and send them to doctors to examine, eliminating the need to visit a doctor. Or such arrangements could allow doctors to diagnose patients in remote areas and send images to specialists who may live far away.
In any case, low-cost medical devices paired with smartphones promise to revolutionize the health industry by providing health care at low cost to more people around the planet. Combine low-cost medical devices with smartphones and Apple’s foundation of HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit along with greater security for privacy of data, and you can see that the iPhone will likely benefit from the coming market for low-cost medical devices that pair with smartphones.
Smartphones and the iPhone in particular will help usher in a new era of remote health care. It’s not feasible to put a trained doctor with expensive equipment everywhere, but it is feasible to put low-cost medical devices and smartphones everywhere.
Health will drive adoption of the Apple Watch so people can monitor their health in real-time. Health will also drive greater adoption of the iPhone because the iPhone is essentially a computer in your pocket that you can take anywhere. With Apple’s emphasis on privacy and security, it’s likely the iPhone will become the trusted health care smartphone rather than Android because Android’s fragmentation among operating system versions and openness that allows malware to sneak in far too easily.
The health care industry is about to undergo a massive revolution spurred on by the smartphone and the iPhone and Apple Watch in particular. Watch for the resistance from hospitals that make the bulk of their money charging high prices for specialized services that can be largely duplicated with low-cost devices and smartphones. The health revolution is just beginning.