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Mobile Phone: Friend Or Professional Foe?

February 18, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Obstetric Ultrasound, Practice Management
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About your mobile phone, we have good news and bad news: it apparently won’t give you brain cancer, but it might hurt your business.

First, the good news: a study by University of Manchester scientists looked at rates of brain cancer diagnoses in England from 1998 through 2007. The researchers found no statistically significant change in the incidence of brain cancer for men or women.

Frank de Vocht, PhD, an expert in occupational and environmental health in the university’s School of Community-Based Medicine, was lead researcher. He was quoted in a university news release as saying:

Our findings indicate that a causal link between mobile phone use and cancer is unlikely because there is no evidence of any significant increase in the disease since their introduction and rapid proliferation.

The study was published online in January in Bio Electro Magnetics.

Okay, now for the bad news: cool new technologies that allow you to view medical images on smartphones or iPads could bring problems as well as opportunities for radiologists.

Last week, the FDA approved MobiUS, a smartphone-based ultrasound system, and Mobile MIM, an application that allows doctors to view medical images on the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. In a thoughtful HealthImaging.com article, a couple of experts examine the implications.

Smartphone-based ultrasound is much more mobile and less expensive than a full-featured ultrasound system. But Jonathan W. Berlin, MD, MBA, clinical associate professor of radiology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, sees some potential issues. The images are not as good as on full-size systems, and MobiUS use by nonradiologists will likely mean more imaging being ordered but less certainty about the findings based on those images. As Dr. Berlin put it:

We have to be a little circumspect about something that potentially could come with dramatic increase in usage of a particular test without any type of long-term study or analysis to indicate the effectiveness of increased usage of the test.

Weighing in on Mobile MIM was Asim F. Choudhri, MD, assistant professor of radiology at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. He saw a number of advantages, including quick and easy consultation with specialists and subspecialists on difficult cases.

On the other hand, Dr. Choudhri said, remote viewing via the app could create extra physical separation and thus professional disconnect between radiologists and clinicians. And easy access to images means easy access by nonradiologists as well, he noted:

Once a technology has been diffused, we need to be circumspect about who’s evaluating the images and make sure all of the findings in images are reviewed by a radiologist.

Related seminar: Radiology Review

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