When Facebook purchased Instagram recently for a record $1 Billion, it sent a shockwave through the technology industry. A mobile App without a revenue stream (but 30 million users) was valued so highly that it created instant multi-millionaires out of its founders and established a new frontier for the next series of blockbuster products and applications. Who could have anticipated that a relatively simple application such as Instagram, which allows individuals to share photographs with their friends and peers, could be worth so much? Android and Apple have developed the dominant App ecosystems with strong evidence that the range and variety of products will continue to grow, fueled by events such as the Instagram purchase.
In this setting, consumers are the beneficiaries. Anyone who owns an Android or Apple device already knows just how useful it is to be confronted with a question or problem, be able to search the App store for the respective device, and find either a free or low-cost application that immediately solves that problem.
The reason that I would like to focus (pun intended) on photo apps is that physicians are using cameras increasingly in their practices to document skin lesions, pre- and post-surgical status of patients, wound healing, orthopaedic deformities, and other medical conditions. One of the challenges for physicians is having a camera available in the examination room when you need it. A digital camera is not a device that a physician generally carries around; however, with mobile phone cameras improving in quality, that is no longer the case. Most physicians do have a mobile phone with them at all times and the ability to use the phone as a medical documentation device (with flash in many cases), adds to the clinician’s flexibility. From a privacy perspective, it is important to delete images from the phone after they have been transferred to the EMR. The quality is quite astounding and should be adequate for basic documentation needs.
So, what Photo Apps do I have on my iPhone 4S? The screenshot below shows applications that I most commonly use.
I use a number of editing and camera Apps, including the standard iPhone camera, but had always been disappointed with the quality of the images. Not bad, but not great. That was until recently when I became aware of the 645 PRO app from Jag.gr. This camera App allows one to take advantage of the very good lens on the iPhone 4s without losing much quality through compression software that is usually automatically applied to images saved in .jpg format when using the standard camera. Using 645 PRO, one can set the quality level and save the image in “near lossless” format. In other words, exactly as the image is captured without software manipulation. The down side: large images up to 10MB in size, but — with unlimited storage at relatively low cost — that is not generally a problem. The image below was taken with the 645 PRO camera on an iPhone 4s.
Have you had an opportunity to use your mobile phone in order to capture clinical images? Click on the “Comments” link below to share your experiences.