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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology

Mobile cell-phones (M-phones) in telemicroscopy: increasing connectivity of isolated laboratories

Livia Bellina1 and Eduardo Missoni2*

Author affiliations

1 Azienda Sanitaria Locale 6, Regione Sicilia, Via G. Cusmano 24, 90141 Palermo, Italy

2 Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management, CERGAS, Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, via Roentgen 1, 20136 Milano, Italy

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2009, 4:19  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-4-19

Published: 19 June 2009

Abstract

Background

The development of modern information telecommunication (ITC) technology and its use in telemedicine plays an increasingly important role in facilitating access to some diagnostic services even to people living in the most remote areas. However, physical and economical constraints in the access to broad band data-transmission network, still represent a considerable obstacle to the transmission of images for the purpose of tele-pathology.

Methods

Indifferently using m-phones of different brands, and a variety of microscopic preparations, images were taken without the use of any adaptor simply approaching the lens of the mobile cell phone camera to the ocular of common optical microscopes, and subsequently sent via Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) to distant reference centres for tele-diagnosis. Access to MMS service was reviewed with specific reference to the African information communication technology (ICT) market.

Results

Images of any pathologic preparation could be captured and sent over the mobile phone with an MMS, without being limited by appropriate access to the internet for transmission (i.e. access to broad-band services). The quality of the image was not influenced by the brand or model of the mobile-phone used, but only by its digital resolution, with any resolution above 0.8 megapixel resulting in images sufficient for diagnosis.

Access to MMS services is increasingly reaching remote disadvantaged areas. Current penetration of the service in Africa was mapped appearing already available in almost every country, with penetration index varying from 1.5% to 92.2%.

Conclusion

The use of otherwise already widely available technologies, without any need for adaptors or otherwise additional technology, could significantly increase opportunities and quality diagnostics while lowering costs and considerably increasing connectivity between most isolated laboratories and distant reference center.