While telemedicine research continues to make remarkable strides in increasing access to care for underserved populations, obstacles such as cost, operation, and sustainability significantly limit its adoption and use.
To improve the access of telemedicine, UC Berkeley Bioengineering Professor Daniel Fletcher has proposed CellScope, a revolutionary approach that turns a conventional cell phone into a compact, high-resolution, handheld microscope with the capability to capture, organize and transmit images. CellScope’s range of magnification (2x – 50x) makes standard cell phones broadly applicable. Low magnification can be used for imaging the ear canal, mouth, throat, teeth, and nasal cavities, with applications for primary care, teledentistry, and first responders. Medium and high magnification can be used to examine skin (teledermatology, wound care, home care) and even examine cells with appropriate reagents (telehematology, telepathology).
CellScope allows telemedicine services to move with the care provider, enables infiltration of even small and frontier clinics due to its size and affordability, improves access to care by enabling telehealth services from nearly any location in the world, and can be used by a wide variety of providers in diverse sites of care. CellScope also leverages the security and audit trailing infrastructure of cellular service providers to provide regulatory compliance.
With under $75 in parts, Professor Fletcher and colleagues demonstrated the feasibility of the first generation CellScope. Next, they will develop, test, and deploy a second-generation CellScope with an even greater magnification and with both transmitted and reflected light illumination that has the potential to enhance access to specialty health services.