Reducing Health Care Costs – Technology Could Be the Answer
For most of us, checking our health or diagnosing an illness means a trip to the doctor’s office. For Walter De Brouwer, it involves holding a little square up to his temple or spitting into the edge of a blue plastic square, snapping a photo with his iPhone, and then reading his diagnosis on the small, glowing screen.
De Brouwer is the founder and CEO of Scanadu, a company that plans to sell a consumer-geared gadget that, along with a smartphone, tracks vital signs like blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate. Scanadu’s team is among those competing in the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, a multi-year, $10 million challenge to build such a device for the health-care field.
Scanadu announced recently that it plans to start selling this first device – the Scout, which monitors heart rate, temperature, blood oxygenation, and other vital signs – by the end of 2013, as well as a disposable urine-analysis test that can swiftly detect pregnancy issues, urinary tract infections, and kidney problems, and a saliva analysis test that can detect upper respiratory problems like strep throat and the flu. The Scout will cost less than $150, and the disposable tests are said to be very inexpensive according to De Brouwer.
The inspiration behind Scanadu came from a long hospital stay. De Brouwer’s son received a traumatic brain injury in 2006 after falling out of a window, and De Brouwer and his wife spent much of that year in the hospital with him. De Brouwer, a tech entrepreneur and one-time personal computer magazine publisher, started learning about the functions of various medical machines surrounding him.
De Brouwer’s Scout is about the size of an Apple laptop adapter (approx. 2.75 inch square). Data gathered by the Scout is transferred via low-power Bluetooth to an iPhone. After about 10 seconds of scanning and analysis by Scanadu’s software, the iPhone will share information about pulse, temperature, and more.
Source: Rachel Metz, Technology Review