February 18, 2011
Mobile Phone Serves As ECG Device
A Singapore company has developed a new phone that can take your pulse when you press your fingers on a receptor, then sends the results to a 24-hour medical call center that can determine if you need medical assistance or not.
The new EPI Life mobile phone is equipped with its own mini electrocardiogram (ECG).
"We think it's a revolution. It has clinical significance," EPI medical chief Dr. Chow U-Jin told AFP at the mobile industry's annual conference in Barcelona, Spain.
"Anywhere in the world you can use it as a phone but you are also able to transfer an ECG and get a reply," said Chow.
"If you get a normal reply it will just be an SMS." But, "if it's severe, you get a call: 'Sir, an ambulance is on the way'," he added.
EPI Life has three hospitals in Singapore, all of which will carry the phone users' history.
The price tag on the phone runs about $700 US, about the price of a high-end smartphone model, and so far about 2,000 phones have been on the market since 2010.
Chow said the phone is geared toward users with "heart disease." He said phone owners can choose from three different packages offering 10, 30 or 100 tests per month.
There is a much cheaper mini version of the phone for $99 that has a smaller receptor that links via Bluetooth to your smartphone, which is due out soon in Spain and France.
The EPI Life mobile phone is one of many new mobile health initiatives unveiled in Spain. Many services rely on SMS or MMS messages that older mobile phones can receive.
Health Company, an outfit that covers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, sends medical information to more than 425,000 customers in Arab and English.
"You could also send a consultation through SMS," said company vice president Fahad S. Al-Orifi. "This SMS will go to our website where our doctor answers you to your mobile."
Kazi Islam, CEO of Grameenphone of Bangladesh, said mobile health is developing in poorer countries where it can be a vital and crucial tool to save lives that may otherwise be lost.
In his country there are less than 3,000 hospitals for the more 150 million people, but some 66 million people there have access to mobile phones.
"Most women don't have access to information of health. Seventy-five percent of women from 15 to 24 have never heard of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)," Islam told AFP.
"With a simple SMS we are sending information to expectant mothers. This is a necessary help."
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