Smartphone Medicine: How It’s Saving Lives

From Medscape:

Would your patients rather take a child crying in the middle of the night to a crowded emergency department or have a doctor diagnose the illness right over a smartphone? Like many parents, Annie Gullick’s children have suffered ear infections more than once. So she and her family were asked to be part of a pilot program in California—using an otoscope. Gullick first tried the otoscope one night when she knew something wasn’t right with her daughter. “It’s really easy,” said Gullick. “It clicks right in over the camera. You take a video, essentially, of her eardrum.” There is then a prompt asking whether the parent wants to send the video to a pediatrician. On the night in question, Gullick did just that. Her pediatrician responded immediately. “The doctor talked me through it and offered to call in a prescription if we wanted it. So it has really saved us a lot of time, a lot of stress, a lot of sleepless nights.” In addition to diagnosing common illnesses, smartphones are being used to monitor such crucial factors as blood pressure in hypertensive patients and glucose levels in diabetics.

With rural doctors in short supply, Minnesota lawmakers consider more financial incentives

From the Star Tribune:

A shortage of rural health care providers, combined with the success of Minnesota’s current loan forgiveness program, is creating momentum at the Legislature for a plan to nearly triple the funding for these incentives — and perhaps extend them to other medical professionals.

Rural Minnesota is expected to face a shortage of at least 800 doctors in the next decade — a result of looming retirements and a lack of interest among medical students to do primary care — when at the same time the aging of its population will increase the need.

“We have a critical need for these providers,” said Steve Gottwalt of the Minnesota Rural Health Association.