The MedROAD project aims at providing most of the fundamental diagnostic tests normally available in large hospitals in a completely mobile platform, making them available to rural communities and remote populations where access to medical clinics is difficult and sometimes impossible. In the proposed system, clinical information is made available to remote physicians via access to a secure web server specifically designed for medical information storage and analysis. This system is designed to help medical professionals with low levels of experience in the operations of any of the available tests, to perform them accurately and efficiently so that a remote physician may provide expert opinion on diagnosis and treatment options. One of the main goals of this project is to determine if patients using MedROAD can benefit from short and long-term improvements in health outcomes, and develop a stronger satisfaction from this health service.
The MedROAD acquisition system currently consists of an ECG, sphygmomanometer (blood pressure), blood glucose monitor, pulse oximeter, inner-ear thermometer, weight scale, electronic stethoscope, hand-held ultrasound scanner, and a portable automated blood chemistry analyzer capable of measuring up to 100 metabolites at very low cost (less than $15/test). All devices transmit data wirelessly to a Samsung S4 smartphone which relays the encrypted data to a remote secure server via an internet connection through local internet providers or satellite connections. Remote connection to the server can be performed using G4 services provided by local telecom providers or in cases where those services are not available remote satellite data connection can be used. The connection between the RAS and the central web server is based on a secure encrypted connection protocol with a large 256 bits key. Using the Samsung phone an Android application was developed to help local health practitioners to first collect patient information such as pictures, patient name, ID numbers, location (using phone GPS), and then guide them to the various tests requested by a remote physician. Because of the mobile phone capabilities the system can also record conversation and allows taking notes that will then be associated to the patient file. The mobile phone can also be used as a way to communicate between the local health practitioner and the remote physician using the high-resolution camera and the micro-phone on the mobile phone. An advanced data compression algorithm capable with dealing with network limitations (especially satellite) was developed to implement this capability. In addition to person-to-person communication, the mobile phone camera can also be used to transmit live video of a portable VSCAN ultrasound system by GE healthcare allowing a remote cardiologist to guide the local healthcare practitioner to capture accurate ultrasound images. In addition to the portable ultrasound probe, the system is also capable of measuring a 12 lead ECG that is then transmitted to the remote patient file and analyzed by the remote cardiologist. Using the remote camera a cardiologist can also guide the local health practitioner with lead placement which is of critical importance to good ECG measurements. The PDU is also capable of digitizing heath and lung sounds from an electronic stethoscope provided with the toolbox. In some cases, where the local environment permits, a Piccolo automated metabolite analyzer is added to the measuring kit to test for various metabolites such as troponin, myoglobin, and CK-MB which are well known indicators of heart dysfunction. In addition to measuring patient information, the mobile phone can also be used to receive signed copies of prescriptions that can then be filled by local pharmacists.