Researchers at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland say camera phone photos can be excellent tools for diagnosing medical conditions when a doctor isn't on the scene, according to a story in Reuters.
A report published this month in the Archives of Dermatology and picked up by Reuters focused on whether photos from camera phones could be used to diagnose leg ulcers (see left). Doctors looked leg ulcers from 52 patients, with one doctor examining the ulcers in person and two doctors viewing just camera phones photos.
The agreement in treatment between in-person and photo diagnosis was up to 94 percent.
According to the Archives of Dermatology summary, "Overall, the agreement between the remote and face-to-face evaluations was very good....The image quality was judged to be good in 36 cases (59%) and very good in 12 (20%). The participants felt comfortable making a diagnosis based on the pictures in 50 cases (82%).
Reuters says the report notes that nurses could take photos of patients and transmit them to doctors, saving the cost of taking patients to a doctor's office or hospital.
The report's authors write, "We were able to show for the first time that telemedicine for chronic wounds is feasible under routine conditions using this new generation of mobile telephones and direct transfer via e-mail.
"We had the impression that a high percentage of the problems related to leg ulcers could be solved with this type of teleconsultation," they added.
Not a new idea
The use of camera phone photos as an aid to diagnosis isn't a new idea. Handset vendors, cellular operators and doctors and emergency medical workers have tested this concept for a few years.
I've been skeptical. After all, would you trust your health to a camera phone photo? But I've been told that doctors are often able to diagnose conditions from photos, even camera phone photos.
If it's a choice of a diagnosis with or without a photo sent to a doctor at a remote location, I'd certainly want the photo to be sent. If would hope, though, that the camera phone was one of the better ones for image quality!