Ultrasound is a technology we take for granted in the West. In developing countries, they often have to make do with far less sophisticated technologies, potentially risking the lives of their patients in the process. In countries with high mortality rates, anything that can help improve the quality of life is essential. Ultrasound is an expensive luxury in the third world, but that might be about to change, thanks to a pioneering new technology developed by Qualcomm.
The company has been experimenting with mobile ultrasound in Morocco, working with Trice – a mobile imaging specialist – for their 3G Mobile Ultrasound Patrol. It brought ultrasound technology to remote Moroccan villages where such technology isn’t available. Images were captured on a mobile ultrasound scanner and sent to smartphones to be forwarded to specialists in major cities such as Fez and Casablanca.
The project helped bring down the costs to just a couple of dollars per patient and enable practitioners to give a medical opinion in less than 24 hours – a significantly improved turnaround from the previous waiting time of around two weeks. Around 575 patients were seen. 94 of those showed potential difficulties in the pregnancy and 158 needed another opinion.
Qualcomm’s project has shown what can be achieved with today’s technology, helping to improve the quality of life where it’s urgently needed.