Digital photography is an important tool in medicine. Digital photos identify patients, unlike other imaging techniques. Photography is being used as a method of documentation as well, and is particularly useful in ophthalmology, rheumatology, dermatology, burns management, wound tracking, and physiotherapy. But visual records is a highly sensitive area, as doctors must have the consent of patients before clicking photos. This is where selfies could be extremely useful, as the patients would themselves click the photos and send them to their doctors. So, the issue of consent is automatically resolved. Digital photography and medical selfie can help to create a valuable record base for doctors without compromising patients’ confidentiality and privacy.
How does digital photography and medical selfie help doctors?
Physicians and patients use smartphones for a number of uses. Physicians use them to improve their communication with other doctors, to read medical information online, and also take photos of patients. There have been many instances when patients have accused their physicians of clicking photos without their consent. To avoid this, and yet have a base of photographs of medical conditions, the medical selfie is the best solution. Medical selfie through digital photography would be beneficial for the patient as well as serve the purpose of documentation.
Using medical selfies for diagnosis
The first medical selfie was taken by a woman in 2004 when she clicked a selfie of a rash and sent it to her physician. She did this because the rash was never present during her consultations. When it appeared on a shopping trip, she took the selfie of her rash, which was then successfully diagnosed. Thus, the trend of medical selfie for diagnosis began. The first selfie video was taken in 2014 by a Canadian woman to document her slurred speech and facial numbness. She was diagnosed as having a stroke from the selfie video even though previous tests had not diagnosed her condition.
Medical selfie through digital photography is a part of participatory medicine as well as PGHD/ Patient Generated Health Data and is extremely useful for prevention of diseases. Digital photography and medical selfie has been found to be highly relevant for clinical consultation. Patients add their own narratives in their selfies, which improves the communication between doctors and patients.
Apps which use medical selfies for diagnosis
An app called the Dip.io from the Israeli company Healthy.io uses digital photos clicked with smartphones for urine analysis (clinical grade). The patient follows the app’s instructions and waits for the dipstick colors to develop. Then he/she clicks a photo of the dipstick and compares against the proprietary card’s background. The app then color corrects the dipstick after which the result is automatically analyzed. The analysis allows the patient to know whether a prescription or consultation is required, which is also arranged automatically.
The dipstick analysis is used to test for glucose for diabetics, the presence of protein, blood, hormones, and bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections in pregnant women. The app is being used by Britain’s National Health Service/NHS to monitor patients who are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, and as a result, have compromised bladders. They are at the risk of developing UTIs and the app allows for early detection of infection. This home testing method speeds up the diagnosis and treatment process, thereby saving the NHS a whopping 10 million pounds a year.
In the near future, digital photography and medical selfie would be applied to diagnose chronic kidney diseases. With the app’s help, diabetes, as well as high blood pressure, can be detected and drugs which lower blood pressure and glucose levels can be prescribed. Medical selfie through digital photography with the app can help to treat dermatological problems too.
Peek Vision app for eye health diagnosis
Image Source : static.dezeen.com
Peek Vision is an app developed to assess the eye health of people living in developing countries and remote areas. The app captures the patient’s medical selfie for diagnosis of eye problems. The data is sent securely to an eye surgeon, image grader, or an ophthalmologist to assess, diagnose, and suggest the necessary treatment.
Digital photography and medical selfie are important and essential tools for diagnosis. Medical selfies elevate the position of patients from passive recipients to active participants in the process of their diagnosis and treatment.