Health self-diagnosis with the smartphone is developing. Does the cure work or is it worse than the disease?

The containment brought about by the pandemic This led people to visit health centers as little as possible and they attended more to their doctors thanks to telemedicine.. These two factors led to another phenomenon: the emergence of digital tools based on artificial intelligence for the patient to self-diagnose quickly, easily and at no cost.

ÜMA Health, for example, is a platform that emerged in Argentina that allows users to access various health-related services, including the ability to assess their cardiovascular risk. Concretely, the person concerned takes a selfie with his smartphone, answers a few questions, and obtains information in a few seconds on his probability of suffering from cardiovascular disease with a high degree of certainty. (Editor’s note: unfortunately we were only able to test the application once; When I tried to log back in with the account we had created, the site entered a loop that returned me to the page to enter data.)

Another example is the mobile application for Android Medgic, presented as designed “to assess, detect and analyze” the user’s skin. For this, you need to install the app, open it, fill in some information, take a photo of the body area and wait up to 15 minutes until the artificial intelligence-based system launches a questionnaire to answer, then presents a result. According to its creator, Mednet PTE LTD, the tool analyzes skin health and determines if there is any type of dryness or inflammation. It also searches the images for some of the most common skin issues such as bumps, bumps, lesions, discoloration, sunburn and warts, welts, to name a few.

Ada, available free for Android devices, allows you to “get a quick medical checkup”: to do this, the user must answer simple questions about their symptoms, and the platform evaluates this information and compares it to a dictionary medical of thousands of medical conditions and diseases. It then sends the patient a report indicating a diagnosis. Among the most common are: colds, flu, migraine and gastritis, among others.

Although on the one hand these examinations are not invasive, they are easy to perform and allow people to carry out the process at home at the time they choose, in all cases the same tools specify that their use is not in no way a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional.

“This phenomenon is positive, because these well-used tools are an excellent complement to medical care. Of course, technology will not replace face-to-face medical care, but physicians must learn to use technology to our advantage,” says Dr. Sergio Montenegro, family physician and medical informatics specialist.

The professional affirms that these applications facilitate and accelerate the diagnosis of many pathologies, since, being accessible to any patient, it is possible to reach millions of people. “But, on the other hand, you have to be careful with the information provided by this type of tool. In addition, the decisions made by the patient, based on the results obtained by this type of tool, must be supervised and reviewed by a doctor, since the results depend very much on the context and on many other factors”, explains. -he.

For his part, Ignacio Fraguio, head of integrated solutions at Roche Diagnóstica Cono Sur, comments: “We are now at the dawn of this type of application, so we are facing a learning phase. As algorithms and regulations improve, we will see more benefits as these solutions are very comfortable for users and also allow people to be more involved in their health condition.”

In any case, the executive mentions that, as these solutions have the possibility of collecting patient data, although this allows to be much more agile in the management of their data, and also favors an increasingly personalized medicine , it is also true that it is essential to ensure data security: “This evolution of digital health must be accompanied by a regulatory framework that ensures the protection and security of the management of patient data”, specifies he.

The diagnostic revolution seems to have begun. In this sense, the trend is that in the future health care will focus on issues such as prediction, prevention and personal action as well as the treatment of patients by professionals.

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