The advances in cell phone technology have introduced a variety of interesting applications. Now a new cell phone from Germany has been introduced which takes electrocardiogram readings and relays these readings to a doctor or hospital.
The phone which will be call the H’andy sana 210 is built by a German company, Medical Marketing Berlin GmbH. The phone is expected to launch in Europe this Fall and Britain’s National Health Services is considering options for supporting the device.
How it works
The phone, which looks like a cousin of the IPhone, is simple for a patient to operate. It has the usual cell phone features including a 2.8 inch touch screen and camera, microSD card slot which facilitates its multimedia capabilities like MP3 and video playback.
The phone also has a heart-shaped icon and the user simply presses two fingers against the edge of the device for 30 seconds. A heart reading is taken and the date is immediately transmitted to the patient’s doctor or hospital.
The intent is to save a patient who has cardiovascular disease and requires regular ECG monitoring from having to make frequent visits to a doctor or hospital to have readings taken. Not only will this pick up potential problems earlier but will also be a cost saving measure.
Patients will no longer have to take time to visit to a doctor or hospital. Patients are more likely to have readings recorded regularly when they can do it without having to leave home.
The phone, which is expected to retail for around $700 in Europe, is not carrier specific so it will work with any service.
Not likely to come to America
Unfortunately the device is not likely to become available in the U.S. for two reasons. First the phones would have to be built to operate on U.S. cell phone frequencies and would require regulatory approval.
Second, doctors would not be paid. The U.S. health care system is based on paying doctors based on visits to the doctor’s office or other facility.
Smart phones and web-based applications which address health care issues and services are being studied. But despite the new technology, the problem said Dr. Alfred Bove, Past President of the American College of Cardiology and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at Philadelphia’s Temple University School of Medicine “… is we don’t get paid for it.”
When and if new technologies become a part of the American health care delivery system will depend on the realignment of how doctors and hospitals get paid for their services.
Health reform may change that
One of the features of the Affordable Care Act passed in March is the requirement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to launch a voluntary accountable care organization program by 2012. Setting up patient centered medical homes is part of this new system.
Pilot programs are now underway and if they are successful could integrate methods of managing chronic diseases with the use of technology and still manage to pay doctors for their expertise.
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