Posts

Apps that aid in healthcare in developing countries It can sometimes be difficult for people in developing countries to access healthcare, specifically those living in poverty. In order to address this problem, healthcare apps are being used to provide greater access. Here are 10 healthcare aid apps that are impacting access in developing countries.

10 Apps That Aid Healthcare in Developing Countries

  1. Peek has its sights set on helping people with vision impairment issues and blindness, a problem exacerbated in developing countries by a lack of resources. Peek can identify people with vision problems. The app then works with healthcare providers to pinpoint an economically feasible way to supply the treatment they need, before allocating the appropriate resources. Currently, Peek is being used by the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is administering a population-based survey of blindness and visual impairments in Cambodia.
  2. SASAdoctor focuses on making healthcare consultations more accessible in Kenya. In the country, only 12% of people are insured. About 8 million are reliant on the National Hospital Insurance Fund, leaving 35 million Kenyans uninsured. Available to all Kenyans with an Android smartphone or tablet (65% of Kenyans have one), SASAdoctor decreases the cost of an in-person consultation for the uninsured and makes it free for those with insurance. Patients will have their medical history, list of medications and other such medical notes in their ‘file’ on the app, so that whoever tele-consults with them will have the information they need to create an informed medical opinion. SASAdoctor can decrease the cost of uninsured visits with a doctor to Kes 495 (the equivalent of $4.66) for a projected 80% of Kenyans who are predicted to have smartphones in the next few years.
  3. iWander allows people to keep track of Alzheimer’s patients. Set with tracking technology that can be discretely worn by the patient, it offers whoever uses the app several options on how to deal with situations involving the patient. Solutions can range from a group calling session to making an emergency medical call or summoning a caregiver. iWander gives families more control over the care of a loved one, which can have a positive impact in countries where healthcare may be less accessible. In the US, the average cost of care for a single person is $174,000 annually. About 7 out of 10 individuals with dementia remain at home to receive care, where 75% of the costs fall to the family to pay. In helping families be proactive instead of reactive to crises, iWander can help in cutting these costs, especially in poorer countries, where many families are struggling to keep up with the high costs of at-home care.
  4. Kenek O2 allows the user to monitor their oxygen and heart rate while they sleep. Kenek O2, built for the iPhone, also requires a pulse oximeter which connects to the phone and retrieves the data to be stored in the app. Together, the cost for these two items is around $100, compared to the price of a regular hospital oximeter and other similar products, which could easily cost more than $500. Having effectively been used in North America, South America, Asia and Africa, Kenek O2 is currently working on developing a special COVID-19 device to watch for early signs of hypoxia, or the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissues.
  5. First Derm is an app that requires a smartphone-connected device, called a dermatoscope. This allows detailed pictures to be taken of skin conditions and lesions to better allow for remote, teleconsultations. In places where doctors are few and far between, and public transport is less reliable, this can make getting a second medical opinion much easier. So far, First Derm has helped in more than 15,000 cases from Sweden, Chile, China, Australia and Ghana, ranging from ages of just 3 days old to 98 years. Of these cases, 70% could be treated without a doctor, most often by over-the-counter treatments available at local pharmacies.
  6. Ada takes user-input symptoms and provides appropriate measures to take as a result, like a personal health assistant. It’s intended to assist those who don’t have the means to seek an in-person consultation right away. The app has been released in several languages, which makes it more accessible. Currently, 10 million people around the world are using Ada for symptom evaluation.
  7. Babylon is intended to mitigate the obstacle of going to see a doctor in person by allowing users to input symptoms or solve common health problems via teleconsultation with a doctor. Babylon specializes in non-emergent medicine, allowing patients to skip a trip to the doctor’s office entirely if their condition allows it. This is beneficial in places where doctors are sparse, or the patient lacks the financial means or a method of transportation in getting to the hospital. Babylon caters to users across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Rwanda and several countries across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The app aims to expand to more countries in the upcoming years.
  8. MobiSante, through its ultrasound device, allows versatility in diagnostic imaging by bringing the ultrasound to the patient. This allows quality, diagnostic imaging to be done outside the confines of a hospital or clinic. As a result, it provides more holistic and informed treatment where people may need it most but have previously struggled in accessing a healthcare center with the necessary technology. While having a computer at home with a desk is much less common in developing countries, the world’s increasing reliance on the internet is shifting the status of internet technology from a luxury to a basic necessity. This means that technology such as smartphones are becoming somewhat of a necessity in impoverished countries, making an app like MobiSante effective in using smartphones to make diagnostic imaging more accessible.
  9. Go.Data is a tool released by the WHO. It is specifically for collecting data during global health emergencies. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, Go.Data was praised for tracing points of contact. The app also tracked infection trends and helped in arranging post-contact follow up.
  10. Mobile Midwife is a digital charting app that stores information in a cloud so that healthcare workers have access to all pertinent patient information. It works even in cases of power outages, or home births where internet connection may be less reliable. This app can help in areas where mother and infant mortality is higher, ensuring that healthcare providers can efficiently access patient information to ensure the best care. It can also cut the extra time it takes to find records that could otherwise make procedures more dangerous for both mother and child.

Bridging healthcare accessibility with smartphone apps isn’t a perfect solution, as it comes with accessibility issues of its own. However, these healthcare aid apps can help people without insurance, or who are physically unable to visit a physician, access health consultations. As a result, more people are provided access to healthcare, empowering a healthier (and more health-conscious) population.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Technology in West AfricaThroughout history, new technology has always been one of the key factors in driving both the economy as a whole, as well as a specific economic sector. New inventions drive new innovations, and as a result, significant advancements are made. Now, technology is driving agriculture in West Africa as well, with both new and familiar ideas paving the way forward. Here are some of the most notable technologies and advancements pushing agricultural expansion in West African countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria.

Clean Energy in Ghana

One of the keys to most modern technology involves energy: sustainable energy, of course, being among the most ideal (and often cheapest) options. Solar power is making electricity available for more and more West Africans every day. There is also a massive project in the works to create a solar power facility in Ghana. Composed of 630,000 photovoltaic modules, the Nzema Solar Power Station will bring electricity to the homes of more than 100,000 Ghanaians. With this clean energy, new technologies that push agriculture and other economic sectors forward can be powered.

Access to Smartphones

Tied closely with the push for energy is the advancement of the smartphone across West Africa. Smartphone ownership has increased to around 30-35 percent in Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria. Smartphones are an absolutely integral driving force for agriculture and technology in West Africa. With access to a smartphone and the internet, farmers can gain easier and more convenient access to information about local markets and upcoming weather forecasts, improving their ability to adapt to shifts in both the environment and the economy. Not only that, but smartphones also allow farmers to purchase insurance and get other financial services, such as banking.

Technologies Boosting Agriculture

In Nigeria, one company named Hello Tractor is making use of the increased spread of smartphones by creating an app designed for renting and sharing tractors with farmers. Farmers can use the app to communicate with nearby owners of tractors, and schedule bookings for the usage of those tractors on specific days. This reduces the barrier of entry to farming as a profession, and as a result is a massive boon to the agricultural sector. With West African companies such as Hello Tractor innovating upon smartphone technology and the Internet of Things, technology in West Africa is once again driving agriculture.

There are also other technologies which may be potentially transformative to agriculture in West Africa. The more recent advancements in 3D printing may offer another pathway to increase efficiency. In West African companies with less intricate transportation infrastructure, 3D printing offers a cheaper way to obtain farming tools by producing them yourself rather than paying expensive shipping fees. In Nigeria, there is a permanent set-up dedicated to manufacturing replacement parts for local industries in order to provide them more efficiently and at a lower cost. The market for this is expanding as well, as there are U.S firms investing in this technology in the region. The installment also offers training programs for local workers so that they can learn the skills necessary to operate such technology.

Another potential, yet controversial advancement is in the sector of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In Ghana particularly, cowpea is a crop prized for its energizing properties, eaten traditionally by farmers before working in the field. However, the crop is dying faster each year due to insects. GMOs could offer one potential path to solving this issue and stabilizing cowpea for West African farmers. Though scientists are still in widespread debate about the safety and usability of genetically modified cowpeas in particular, the technology could regardless offer another potential path to advancement for the West African agricultural sector.

Future for Technology in West Africa

Ultimately, the most important and consistent technology for the future of agriculture in West Africa is found in information technology. Smartphone presence becoming more widespread allows access to market data, weather data, financial services, and even access to rental services like those of Hello Tractor. Western Sydney University is also working on a mobile application specifically streamlined for usage by farmers, providing access to many of these services all in one app.

Overall, it is clear to see that technology is driving agriculture in West Africa. With all of these new advancements, it is reasonable to expect West Africa to continue pushing its agricultural sector forward. With solar power expansion, 3D printing, smartphone access, and rental services like Hello Tractor, the informational landscape of West Africa will be transformed significantly over the next several years.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

connect people5G is a new telecommunication technology that allows cell phones and other smart devices to communicate with one another much more efficiently. It will replace the highly successful 4G LTE network, which provides millions of people around the world with access to high-speed internet. Not only will 5G networks bring faster internet speeds and clearer voice calls to customers, but the new technology will connect people in a much more sophisticated way, especially in rural and developing areas.

5G Devices

While major telecommunication companies are investing in 5G and doing their part to make a new service available, technology companies will be responsible for designing devices that are compatible
with the new networks. Samsung, Apple, LG, and other large technology companies will need to make sure that their smartphones and tablets support 5G. It will be essentially useless to build a 5G network if devices cannot utilize the new network.

Smart Devices Becoming a Reality

5G networks will lay the groundwork for smart devices to better “talk” with one another. 5G will support significantly higher bandwidth rates than 4G networks, which will make it possible for cars and other devices to communicate with one another, meaning that these technologies may become available within the next decade. Tesla, Ford and Google have already begun developing self-driving smart cars, and it is rumored that Apple is also developing its own smart car.

Connecting Residents in Rural and Developing Communities

4G LTE has significantly increased internet speed and has allowed millions of people to access smartphone technology. In 2015, Ethiopia launched its 4G network around the capital city of Addis Ababa, which provided high-speed cellular service to over 400,000 people. Nearly 650 million people have been connected to 4G in Africa, which has increased economic and educational opportunities.

Unfortunately, some rural communities and developing countries throughout Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia have been left out of 4G LTE. These areas are still relying on 2G and 3G networks, which are
significantly slower and much less reliable. The older cellular technologies also make it impossible for these communities to use new smart devices. Experts hope that 5G networks will be available to these communities and will allow access to new technologies.

Investments in rural and developing areas will also benefit businesses and global economies. The new technologies will help people gain access to new markets for buying products and services. 5G rollout will be particularly important in Kenya, as the country anticipates that greater access to the internet will help grow the economy and expand access to global markets. 5G can also help rural and developing areas grow businesses, further helping economies by connecting people to high speed internet.

5G Companies

Ericsson, a cellular provider that serves the Middle East and Africa expects its 5G network to be widely deployed in 2020 and 2021. Vodacom, the African-based section of Vodafone, began deploying 5G technology in August 2018. The South-African based cellular provider, Rain, announced Africa’s first commercial 5G network, which is being developed in partnership with Huawei.

Elsewhere, major telecommunication companies have already begun a 5G rollout in major cities. American cellular providers such as T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T have all pledged to bring
5G technology to New York City and Washington D.C, with significantly expanded access in the coming years. Other telecommunication companies such as Deutsche, Telekom and Orange are doing the same in Europe, and Rakuten in Japan as well. It is also possible that American companies may collaborate with African-based carriers in the future to best serve customers on both continents.

T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere discussed 5G coverage in a recent blog:

“Let me be clear. These aren’t just words… they’re verifiable, enforceable and specific commitments that bring to life how the New T-Mobile will deliver a world-leading nationwide 5G network – truly 5G for all, create more competition in broadband, and continue to give customers more choices, better value and better service.”

Looking Ahead

5G is a revolutionary technology that will connect millions of people to smart technologies such as smartphones, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence devices. While the 5G rollout will not be completed until at least 2025, new technologies will emerge before then that will significantly change the ways in which we interact with the world. In essence, 5G networks will connect people, accelerate the adoption and access to high-speed networks, which will open up endless possibilities for millions of existing cellular customers.

– Kyle Arendas
Photo: Flickr

Free Smartphones to the Poor
Chhattisgarh, a state in central India, has always lacked decent mobile connectivity. Smartphones would be useless in poor communities where there is no wireless coverage. So Chief Minister Raman Singh has been working alongside mobile and electrical companies to expand Chhattisgarh’s network.

In March 2017, Singh announced, while presenting the state budget, a plan to distribute 4.5 million free smartphones to the poor citizens of the state. The annual budget for 2017-18 is up 7.6% from the previous year, providing the state with enough funds to execute its generous plan.

In June 2016, Singh met with state-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and urged it to install 1,600 mobile towers throughout the state to increase telecom connectivity. The company agreed to install more than 2,000 towers in two years. These new towers will extend the state’s 27 wifi spots with 220 more.

Singh also began the Bastar Net project last year. Singh wishes to increase mobile and Internet access across the Bastar region, an area that has been hit by recent rebellions. The project will include laying an 832-kilometer optical fiber cable, making a ring-network mechanism. Singh believes that this project will enhance government services in the area along with developing a knowledge-based society in Bastar.

Homegrown technology company Smartron signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chhattisgarh government this month to change the state’s technological infrastructure by manufacturing smart technology. The company is looking to become India’s first original equipment manufacturer, which will bring a boost in manufacturing and jobs in the country. Smartron’s understanding with the Chhattisgarh government will allow it to expand its services in the areas of health, home, education, energy and more.

With an expanded wireless network and an increase in smart technology manufacturing, Chhattisgarh’s goal of providing free smartphones to the poor can be achieved. With new smart technology, the poor could have unlimited internet access and connectivity with the world around them.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Flickr

Movies to Africa
Mobile network provider MTN Ghana has partnered with African Movies on the GO (AMGO), a content provider, to provide over one billion movie lovers access to any of their favorite movies online using their smartphone devices.

The AMGO app will put unlimited African entertainment in the hands of movie lovers on the continent and abroad at a moderate cost. Users can easily watch downloaded videos offline anywhere and anytime on their smart mobile device, and movies can be paid for using MTN Mobile Money or any other electronic payment service of choice.

Apps like AMGO are especially important in the drive to connect more smartphone users in Africa. The continent is already seeing substantial positive change, with the number of smartphone connections almost doubling over the last two years, reaching 226 million. This means that today more than half a billion people across Africa subscribe to mobile services, with the number expected to grow to 725 million by 2020.

The mobile ecosystem indirectly and directly contributed to 3.7 million jobs in 2015. This could potentially help the continent grow its job sector; and if mobile device prices continue to drop as they have, Africa could potentially move over the affordability barrier.

The AMGO app will help the continent do just that by promoting digital access to media and entertainment. The app, specifically, could present a great opportunity for African movie producers according to the CEO of AMGO Group LLC, Nana Osei Aboagye. Equally important, it will also sell African content to the outside world in an effort to change the narrative of the continent.

The ultimate hope is to enhance the lives of the users by enabling them access to these benefits. Currently, the app is available on Google Play for Android devices, but the company plans to get other operating systems on board.

With the release of the AMGO app, Africa will take a big step forward in its digital revolution and enhance its people’s lives.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr

Smartphones_Healthcare Disease DetectionDr. Aydogan Ozcan is revolutionizing disease detection and diagnosis. The electrical engineer and bioengineer from the University of California, Los Angeles has developed a microscope that utilizes smartphones.

Smartphones seem a simple alternative to expensive lab equipment. “We have close to six billion cell phone subscribers today,” Ozcan said on the timeliness of his development. Of these users, 70 percent come from developing countries that have a greater need for this microscope.

The system weighs about 200 grams and is able to identify particles as small as 100 nanometers. According to Charles Choi of Scientific American, the microscope can also detect relatively large viruses like HIV and harmful bacteria present in food and water.

The device is easy to use, which means more people can use the smartphone microscope for their benefit. The portability and cost-effectiveness of the device may prove invaluable in remote areas without easy access to medical facilities or trained personnel.

How exactly does the microscope function?

Instead of lenses, this device creates images electronically, according to a New York Times article by Anne Eisenberg. Choi explains that molecules known as fluorophores “[that] fluoresce under certain wavelengths of light” identify and locate the target particles to which they attach.

A blue laser shined onto the particles excites them, creating a hologram from which information can be extracted. The hologram may prove quicker than microscopes in disease detection and diagnosis, according to Eisenberg.

This speed and effectiveness could play a crucial role in future research by, for instance, facilitating the screening of entire regions. This could help gather information on how diseases spread and subsequently inform future responses, Ozcan said.

Ozcan continues to develop his research for the betterment of global healthcare. Holomic LLC, a start-up he founded, “aims to commercialize the computational microscopy.” Commercialization may give his and similar innovations a greater reach and applicability.

Jocelyn Lim

Sources: Anna Eisenberg, Charles Q. Choi, Holomic, National Geographic, Biophototonics
Picture: Google Images

MedicSMS
A diagnosis could be as quick as a text message away through the program MedicSMS.

MedicSMS is a new way for doctors to give diagnoses to patients in developing countries. The service is provided by means of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an upcoming technology that is gaining credibility and popularity.

Many people in developing countries have access to basic mobile phones. According to the 2015 Ericsson Mobility Report there are 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions that exist globally. By the year 2020, Ericsson predicts that number will jump to 3.5 billion.

MedicSMS capitalized on growing mobile connections, creating a new way for patients and their doctors to interact when “in-person” is not an option. The program works collaboratively with IBM Watson, a “supercomputer platform” that can “analyze health data” and Twilio, the SMS service used. The machine, using basic question and answer sets, will “reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data,” according to IBM.

After the data is received from the patient, Watson goes to work. The AI interface translates the SMS into a “likely diagnosis,” according to MedicSMS. The patient is then delivered a set of steps to follow for their newly diagnosed condition.

After a diagnosis is made, patients can start a treatment regimen immediately.

A service similar to MedicSMS, called FrontlineSMS, is seeing success from its pilot project in Malawi, which is the world’s poorest country, according to data from the World Bank.

According to the FrontlineSMS website, the service saved hospital staff an estimated “1,200 hours of follow-up time and $3,000 in motorbike fuel.” The time saved by Frontline SMS could be allocated to other patients in need of “in-person” aid, while the financial resources could be stretched further to assist other people in need.

The MedicSMS AI interface also asks for a location from the patient. That information is logged and transported to local health authorities that can administer extra aid if needed, as well as medication that the patient requires.

The GPS location also allows health authorities to pinpoint where illnesses and diseases are taking place, helping them to be better prepared for future outbreaks of certain diseases.

Harley Katz, one of the Ph.D. members of the MedicSMS team, hopes that soon, health organizations can better understand where the epicenter for diseases and outbreaks are taking place.

“Eventually, we’re hoping to track much more, including where similar symptoms are popping up on the map,” he said.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: World Bank, Ericsson, IBM, Frontline SMS, Techcrunch, Devpost
Photo: Google Images

Cheapest_Smartphone

Global mobile carrier, Orange, has just launched the world’s cheapest smartphone. By doing so, they have opened up countless potential opportunities for low-income individuals and their families.

The new device is called Klif and runs on Mozilla’s Firefox 2.0 mobile operating system. Retail has been set at $34, or the equivalent exchange rate in countries where American dollars are not used. Features of Klif include a two megapixel camera, Firefox web browser, an FM radio and full Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth integration.

While smartphones are readily available to Africa’s upper and middle classes, those in lower income brackets are typically unable to afford the devices, let alone the sky-high data plans required to run them. Klif includes a data, text and voice plan, and can be run immediately after activation.

Klif marks a key milestone in the greater tech revolution already occurring across Africa. The device allows for thousands to afford Internet access, and increased connectivity has been shown to increase economic income and output. It also allows for thousands to now contact friends and family in a moment’s notice.

With smartphones and certain apps, farmers can check the weather, nurses and doctors can receive patient updates and students can supplement their learning. As Orange expands its network, even more people will be able to reap the benefits of increased data access.

Orange has released Klif in 13 countries across Africa and the Middle East, with the hopes to enter more markets in the near future.

Executive Vice President of Connected Objects and Partnerships for Orange, Yves Maitre, said of Klif, “By scooping up all the costs into one, incredibly priced digital offer, we hope that critical access to the mobile internet and all the opportunities that that opens up, will be within reach of many more people.”

With Klif and increased mobile access in general, developing countries have more potential to catch up with the top nations of the world.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: CNET, It News Africa
Photo: Wired

smartphones_for_EducationEveryone knows that education plays a critical role in unlocking a successful future, but that education does not need to be earned in a schoolhouse. Especially if the closest schoolhouse is several miles away and lacking pencils and paper. Online classes are not particularly new; online degrees became available in the United States in the mid-’90s however as technology began to flourish so did the popularity of distant learning programs.

Online courses have become appealing to international students, and especially those in developing countries because they are available anywhere in the world that where there is internet access and they are affordable. The Khan Academy — one of the most successful online schools — claims that 30 percent of their students are non-American.

The argument has been made that online courses are not as revolutionary to developing countries as they have been predicted to be. Opponents contend that because the necessary technology, a tablet or smartphone, and the bandwidth or Internet access, is not currently available in economically struggling countries, it makes more sense to direct aid towards building schools or encourage the governments of developing countries to focus their agendas on improving their countries educational institutions.

But what if instead of focusing on the traditional avenues to increasing education, philanthropists and governments got on board with investing in smartphones for education?

While online classes have the potential to bridge the education gap between wealthy and poor countries, the missing piece is access to the necessary online learning tools, namely a tablet or phone and bandwidth. edX is a non-profit organization that offers free courses for students.

The courses range from high school to university level and beyond. While the courses are free, they provide options to receive certifications for a small fee, which all goes towards creating a financially sustainable organization. Professors from across the U.S. including several who from Harvard, Berkeley and MIT teach the classes.

Anant Agarwal is the leader of this massively open online courses (MOOC) organization. He predicts that once governments realize that high-quality online learning content is available through organizations such as edX, that they will begin investing in the infrastructure necessary for their citizens to access this wealth of information.

It is more economical for governments or NGOs to provide students with the technology for online classes than to build the roads or buildings to make attending a physical school accessible. Even in the developing world, the majority of people already own a cell phone and some even a smartphone. 62 percent of Nigerians surveyed by Global Attitudes said they owned a cellphone and 27 percent of them reported owning a smartphone. While this is nowhere near the 64 percent of Americans who own smartphones, it is a start.

Governments and NGOs should consider investing in providing the necessary technology for students to participate in online classes as a means of gaining their education. Students will be able to access a higher level and standard of education and lift themselves out of poverty by fulfilling the requirements for a successful career and future through online courses.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: The Verge, College Classes, CE
Photo: Baltic Grid

Smartphone App for Affordable, Accessible Eye Exams
Vision and eye health is undeniably vital to individual health. Visual incapacitates are debilitating not only for personal health but for economic opportunity as well.

Despite the importance of eye health, provision of visual health care is severely lacking in many developing countries. Much of the statistical data points to a link between poverty and vision impairment. Poverty has been shown to precipitate visual impairment, and such impairments can then cause loss of financial opportunity as well as expenditure on healthcare.

Visual healthcare is generally costly, and this leads to a lapse in treatment. An estimated 80 percent of blindness cases globally are preventable, given proper care. In the United States, the high costs of eye healthcare result in almost half of adults requiring these facilities to forego them. Putting off necessary eye exams for financial reasons hinders the early diagnosis of potential health concerns, as well as their timely treatment.

These issues of costly eye healthcare are relevant in places where visual health is accessible at all. In developing countries, access to an ophthalmologist or professional care can be fairly limited. On a global average, there are only 30 ophthalmologists per million people; in resource-poor countries, this number can be as low as one eye doctor per one million persons.

The efforts to seek a solution to this problem have unsurprisingly revolved around Internet and cellphone technology. With the advent of medical services offered through smartphone apps and webpages, smartphone technology is making an impact in the field of visual healthcare as well. Peek (Portable Eye Examination Kit) visions is one such smartphone app. Winner of the 2014 Digital Design award by the London Design Museum, the app features enhanced capabilities and features that make this app the next best thing to an eye doctor visit.

The app can diagnose a variety of common visual health concerns, from cataracts and glaucoma to retinopathy and nerve disease. The app uses the Peek Retina accessory, which goes over the built-in cellphone camera. The camera in the phone can then show the retina imaging when held over someone’s eye.

The retinal imaging can be stored and shared with a healthcare professional through the app’s database. Diagnosis and further information on the patient can also be stored in their database. The app also offers Peek SightSim, which is an innovative vision testing program. This eye test is like a vision test in an ophthalmologist’s office, but it doesn’t rely solely on recognition of English letters. The app can then show the doctor an adjusted image of how his patient can see, according to the test administered. The images can also be geotagged, to assist physician follow up.

Currently, one healthcare worker can assist 1,000 patients per week, as per clinical trials. The app is being further enhanced to make it even more affordable and accessible. The adapter for retinal imaging has been made quite small and portable. The current specifications allow for untrained people to assess certain visual ailments, including myopia and far-sightedness.

The Peek Vision team has started a campaign to fund further research and clinical trials to make the app more efficient. Donors can also choose to fund specific regions in desperate need of visual healthcare.

Additional refining of the app and the details of its usage is crucial for the success of the app; however, the very development of this app has brought us a step closer to combating preventable blindness globally.

Atifah Safi

Sources: International Council of Ophthalmology, Amazon, Peek Vision
Photo: Eye Clinic Of Austin