JUN 24, 2014 12:00 AM PDT

An Answer for Cervical Cancer

Smart Phones Can Save Women's Lives

MobileOCT is transforming everyday smart phones into advanced, life saving cancer screening devices. Early and accurate cancer detection exponentially increases the chance of a complete recovery. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost each year simply because women in low-resource areas do not have access to diagnostic equipment. Most screenings for cervical cancer around the world are done with the naked eye.

When Israel-based Mobile OCT learned about the challenges faced by health providers conducting naked eye analysis using visual inspection, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based company decided to help them and developed a smart phone-based colposcope. While the devices are being sold to organizations, some organizations sending life-saving professionals into the field do not have budgets for new equipment. The company organized a campaign to raise money to manufacture 100 devices for these organizations.

Why Cervical Cancer Kills in Low Resource Settings:

Worldwide, 527,000 women per year are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 275,000 women die of it. Cervical cancer is a top killer of women in the developing world. For every American woman, seven African women die of cervical cancer. Whereas American women get annual PAP smears, followup with colposcope studies if there are abnormalities and more followup with biopsies if there is real trouble, African women get a visual examination with acetic acid.

Using a smart phone camera, a powerful zoom lens and light< Mobile OCT has created a low-cost mobile colposcope. The equipment cost is $400 instead of $10,000, and results can be transmitted to the cloud for second opinions, tracking and research.

Revolutionize Cervical Cancer Screening and Save Countless Lives

Launched in 2013, MobileOCT is a biomedical optics start-up whose mission is to save as many lives as quickly as possible. Using cameras on everyday mobile phones, MobileOCT will make it easy and affordable for health service providers and community health workers to screen for cancer everywhere around the globe, for anyone who needs it.

The Mobile Colposcope gives health care workers a life-saving 2.5-to-10-times better view than they have using just the naked eye, raising diagnostic accuracy from 17 to 70 percent. The handle provides stability, and a battery-powered bright light illuminates structural and compositional changes in the tissue. The device enables health workers to provide the same high level of care in low-resource areas as they would at advanced medical centers. This solution will help health care organizations screen more patients, while reducing over-treatment due to false positive diagnoses and their costs.

Global Network Will Connect Health Providers

The value of using a smart phone isn't just in the camera. MobileOCT's mobile app enables health workers around the world to upload images taken with the device to a cloud-based database. Health care organizations can then track the care being given, including:

- Where women are screened
- Which observations lead to diagnosis and treatment
- What follow-up options are presented to women
- How many women are treated

Health organizations can run reports on a patient's or health worker's history, so that organizations can follow up with patients for ongoing care, and provide feedback and professional development to health workers.

The network of global health organizations currently includes Partners in Health, MGH's Global Health Group, and ProSalud/MexFam, who operate collectively in more than 20 countries. As of today, the Mobile Colposcope is already active in or headed to six countries worldwide for trials: Haiti, Rwanda, Kenya, Botswana, Mexico and the United States. Demand from organizations in the field has been so high that the company can no longer meet the needs without raising funds for manufacturing.

Thanks to the company's recent first place placement at Vodafone's Wireless Project, Mobile OCT is able to push forward its clinical trials. The Vodafone America Foundation has awarded $300,000 for the collaborative development and testing of a smartphone-based cervical cancer diagnostic tool by Mobile OCT, Scripps Health, theInternational Community Foundation (ICF) and Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud. Vodafone America presented the team's first place award as part of their 2014 Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ competition on May 29 at the Social Innovation Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Scripps Clinic gynecologist Bruce Kahn, M.D., will lead testing efforts through Scripps in San Diego and Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. The International Community Foundation will serve as the project's fiscal sponsor and provide additional technical expertise given the foundation's previous involvement in a multi-year mobile health clinical study in Tijuana.

Still, MobileOCT needs support. Thus, it has turned to crowd funding.

Support the Campaign, Save Lives

With individual investments, MobileOCT can manufacture at least 100 devices, which will immediately be deployed by health workers operating in more than 10 countries. Donations will not only save the lives of hundreds of thousands of women a year; they will advance the cause of remote cancer diagnosis.

For details see the website: www.mobileoct.com.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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