The needs within healthcare technology are remarkably constant. While technology changes and evolves, the main desire for consumers is based on mobility and cost. As our global society becomes, well, increasingly global, the ability to share resources and devices become more and more important. Our global responsibilities as citizens of the world grow as well. It’s in this spirit that a team of scientists from the UK have created an HIV test that can be plugged into a computer, a la USB drives.
HIV Detection on USB Drives
Doctors can place small blood samples onto sensors attached to the flashdrive. These USB drives can be plugged into any laptop with the necessary software. The sensors on the USB drives measure the blood acidity levels, and send those findings through the drive to the computer. Early results show that the accuracy is between 88-95%. Additionally, the testing takes less than 30 minutes. This could be an amazing advancement for testing in developing nations with few resources. The devices can also monitor and recommend medications based on the viral load in the patient, helping health practitioners become more effective and efficient.
Current testing is expensive and time consuming (like, a couple days of processing). The equipment necessary to test is comparable to the size of an industrial printer, so one can imagine what it takes to cart something like that around a developing nation. By shrinking the technology to USB drives and laptops, both health professionals and patients can be better served.
Patients can also take a more active role in their diagnosis as well, since these USB drives can be used throughout time to monitor their blood levels. USB drives probably can’t end the HIV crisis, but will hopefully help assuage it.
While these tests aren’t quite market ready, the potential is enormous. And not just for HIV patients. USB drives could potentially be used to detect other infections as well, like hepatitis or other blood-born diseases. These types of advancements are exactly what is needed to not only assist healthcare professionals but, from a global perspective, to help enable and empower patients. Medicine is an understandably complex field; any level of ease or simplification helps increase understanding and retention of information for the afflicted.
USB Drives Driving Healthcare Advances?
USB drives have become fairly inexpensive to produce, and compatible with many devices (even mobile phones with the proper attachments). These advances make it ideal for for future medical device technology application. As our responsibility as global citizen grows, so does must our aptitude for solving problems and ability to aid others.