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Mobile phones are being used in research to help manage certain health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
During the last two years, with our partner e-San, we have funded the development of special O2 Xda computer handheld devices to measure the breathing of asthma and cystic fibrosis patients remotely.
“Forget texting, picture messaging and downloading [ringtones]. If you're one of the estimated 20 per cent of the population that suffers from a chronic disease, like diabetes or asthma, far from driving you round the bend, the mobile could help keep you healthier for longer.”
We successfully completed a first trial with asthma patients in the Thames Valley area in the UK in 2005. Results showed extensive benefits: patients monitored their breathing more regularly than with conventional methods; doctors were more quickly alerted to adverse readings; and patients could often accurately treat themselves. The service also sent patients regular text reminders to take their readings.
Our cystic fibrosis trials proved very effective in helping to lessen the number of hospital visits by patients and to reduce pressure on the UK National Health Service, increasing the likelihood of timely intervention when needed.
In 2005/06, mobile data solutions in the health sector were further tested in a trial between Manx Telecom, e-San and the Isle of Man Department of Social Security. The trial, which recorded improved management and monitoring for asthma sufferers, has prompted a second trial with diabetes patients for 2006/07.