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    Smartphones Improve Access to Care

    It’s been only a little over 30 years since modern technology began to make an appearance in homes across the world. Today, we carry more information than we can consume in smartphones the size of a wallet. Little by little, technology has been permeating every crevice of our lives, and health care is no exception. The great thing about living in today’s world is that advancements in technology are providing solutions to problems that were once considered difficult to solve. Access to health care is one of these problems.

    Access to highly specialized physicians is particularly difficult. The shortage of specialists, along with other factors such as geographic or financial obstacles, limits access to specialized care. For example, experts say there is currently a “dire shortage of pediatric dermatologists,” with fewer than 300 board-certified physicians practicing this specialty in the United States. Technology could possibly provide a solution to that problem. New research suggests that by simply using a smartphone to snap and send a photo to a pediatric dermatologist, parents can receive a reliable diagnosis for their child’s skin condition.

    The study, conducted by a research team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was based on the participation of 40 families who (mostly) used Apple iPhones to snap and submit photos for review. Of the 87 images that the families sent to a pediatric dermatologist, digital diagnoses and in-person diagnoses were in-sync 83% of the time. These results suggest that telemedicine may be a viable option for future diagnoses and that access to care can be significantly increased as smartphones and other communication technology continue to evolve.

    This study demonstrates just one example of how technology has improved the health care industry. We want to know: Has your practice been significantly impacted or supported by technology in a way that has made your job easier? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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