Nov 8, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The next big thing in healthcare? Smartphones.

In a recent article on NBC News, Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California said, “The smartphone is becoming the central hub for medicine. Most route medical tests are about to be smartphone-mediated.”

Many of medicine’s latest apps use the microphone and camera, and some use small, affordable attachments to help doctors gather information.

Some of those attachments function as tiny EKG machines, while others function as otoscopes to detect ear infections.

NBC News also reports that the apps are becoming more “ambitious.” Stanford researchers recently developed an algorithm that can detect a cancerous skin lesion. The University of Washington has a new app to screen for pancreatic cancer. Other apps help people with diabetes.

Topol added that smartphone apps helped to make medicine accessible from just about anywhere. Of the technology he said, “It democratizes medicine so people…are generating the data, they’re looking at the interpretation, they’re helping to drive their care.”

Critics argue that medical apps are early in the technology and caution doctors of the reliability of the information they gather.

Other concerns around privacy. Alex Mariakakis, of the University of Washington said, “We’d never want to use this stuff to replace doctors.”

Stay tuned for updates on smartphone technology in the medical world.


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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