The Tricorder, An All-In-One Diagnostic Device, Draws Nigh

from readwrite

After pushing back deadlines by a few months, the 10 remaining teams in the Tricorder X Prize are nearing the day they will deliver a device that can diagnose 15 diseases and other basic health information through at-home tests. The teams are scheduled to deliver working prototypes in June to a UC-San Diego study that will test the devices on patients with known medical disorders to measure their accuracy.

“We’re pretty confident that the majority of the 10 finalist teams will actually be able to deliver,” senior director Grant Company said. “Some may merge, and some may fall out, just because they can’t pull it together. And that just reinforces how big of a challenge this really is. It’s because the goals are very high.”

The winning “tricorder”—and its competitors—likely have a long FDA approval process ahead of them, which means their consumer release could be years away. But when they do arrive, they will be able to diagnose problems like stroke, anemia and tuberculosis—tasks that have always been reserved for doctors.

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2 Comments

  1. Healthcare and technology make an excellent team. Healthcare professionals are always in need of newer and improving technology to better their abilities in their field. Some forms are as simple (but actually difficult to execute) like electronic health records and other can be as complex as this new invention mentioned in the article above. A device that could take vitals and other health information from you in the comfort of your home or even outdoor location and then relay that information to a doctor or even diagnosis you itself truly does sound like something “Bones” from Star Trek would carry. The “tricorder” is definitely an exciting possibility coming to our lives in the next few years.
    This being said there are a number of interesting possible outcomes this invention will have. This device, like many cutting edge technologies, will act as a major disruptor to the industry of healthcare, specifically the primary care division. Doctor patient interactions may decrease causing loss of revenue to the outpatient facilities most would need to go to. This could be made up through charging for teleservices the doctor would provide in place, but this will probably come at a discounted rate. Additionally, this may act as a further deterant to those who want to become primary care physicians. As it stands, pediatrics and primary care physicians have lower salaries than specialty physicians leading there to be a shortage on primary care doctors. A decrease in office visits would indicate a decrease in revenue (possibly) for that outpatient center and in turn the physician’s salary that works there. Therefore, the tricorder could act to further incentivize the workforce for primary care doctors. On the other hand, this could be a major cost saving measure for healthcare networks by being able to provide care to more patients in a more efficient matter. As a current undergraduate with medical school on the horizon, I will be keeping a close eye on this amazing new technology to see how my possible future career will be changed.

  2. As the technology in our society advances, new products that were once only thought of as science fiction are coming to the mainstream. Cell phones, communication to places on the other side of the world were thought of as impossible and now billions of people have that ability with the phones in their pocket. The next great advancement out of science fiction might be the tricorder. A competition set up by Qualcomm is nearing completion which will see devices from ten teams showcased, all of which having the potential to become products available to the public. A device like this can have massive implications in world wide health. A device like this is designed to be able to diagnose different types of illnesses without a doctor being present. It can have a range of applications in developing countries, especially if the cost is not too great. Once the device knows what the illness is, it can diagnose a medicine or cure. This kind of diagnosing power could limit the amount of spreading that a disease can do before it is realized and dealt with. Also, buying one of these devices for a household could be a much cheaper alternative to always having to go to the doctor and paying for all of those visits.
    I think that this technology has the potential to change the way that we live for the better. The ability to instantly diagnose illnesses and diseases without doctor’s will help save lives through the entire world, especially in developing countries. It will also mean less people being admitted to hospitals which means that doctors and nurses can focus on patients who need extensive care. Furthermore, once the first generation products are out and the technology keeps advancing, the devices will only continue to become more capable in terms of identifying diseases and monitoring other bodily functions. These devices also have the potential to start a vast database of illnesses by type and area so that researchers identify what areas might need help staying healthier and getting them that help. This is just another example of how science fiction can turn into real life, and innovations like this will continue to shape the future of humanity for years to come.

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