Last Call for Pioneer Enrollment!

We’ve had such an amazing response from physicians and clinicians across the country that we’ve nearly reached our Pioneer program capacity. We have well over 600 Pioneers spread out across 49 states and Puerto Rico. Yes, that’s right: 49 of 50 states. We’re everywhere except New Hampshire!

Check out what our Pioneers, Dr. Van Vliet and Dr. Gaskin say about their experience as an Oto Pioneer.

It’s not too late to sign up, but you’ll have to act fast! Enrollment closes this Friday, May 2nd, 2014. 

Sign Up Now!

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Malaria, the CellScope, and Lessons Learned

“Cell phones are amazing tools. For some of us, they’re about staying in touch. For millions of people, it could be about staying alive.”  – Bill Gates,, 2010

The 2014-2015 rally cry of the World Health Organization (WHO) is “Invest in the future. Defeat Malaria.” The WHO encouraged countries, companies and foundations to “showcase their efforts and reflect on how to further scale up interventions.” As we observe World Malaria Day, we couldn’t help but think about our humble beginnings and reflect on what our past experience with malaria taught us about mobile health.

Let’s flashback to the summer of 2008, when CellScope’s co-founder Dr. Erik Douglas was testing the original CellScope prototype in a busy trauma hospital in Goma, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This may seem like an unusual place to start for those who are unfamiliar with our founding story, but it was a fitting test location for the original CellScope which used mobile microscopy for remote diagnosis of infectious diseases. The year prior, Professor Dan Fletcher’s lab at UC Berkeley secured grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to modify the CellScope to diagnose malaria, and sent it with Erik to Goma to test it out in a real world setting.

CEO and co-founder, Dr. Erik Douglas demonstrating the CellScope prototype for health workers in Goma.

CEO and co-founder, Dr. Erik Douglas demonstrating the CellScope prototype for health workers in Goma.

Erik learned several very valuable lessons while working on the malaria CellScope project that have shaped our company’s mission and how we approach our work.  First, the experience solidified Erik’s belief that a remote diagnosis tool has the power to transform healthcare accessibility, erasing geographical boundaries between patients and providers.

However, if we are going to be successful in achieving accessibility, we must consider the full use case of the tool. This second lesson became apparent in Goma where Erik found Internet connection readily available, but workers lacked the supplies for blood sample preparation and had no alternative but to reuse gloves for weeks. It became obvious the challenges would be great, but not insurmountable. Solutions to these problems are achievable if we constantly evaluate the contextual needs of patients and their providers.

We’re more likely to succeed in creating real change in the health landscape if we (companies, research institutions, and foundations) work together. The CellScope team is still closely linked to the Fletcher lab and believe this partnership will lead to positive outcomes that leverage the strengths of each group.  For instance, as we enter into a commercial market we can drive costs of production down which is a huge barrier to sustainability. Meanwhile, Dr. Fletcher’s lab can continue to make breakthroughs in diagnostic research for diseases like loa loa filariasis.

Our partnership and the lessons we’ve learned from the CellScope Oto could one day help lab inventions transition into scalable, real world solutions. Another benefit of such partnerships is foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, can take the risks needed to find novel impactful solutions. To date the Gates Foundation has committed USD $2 billion in grants and another USD $1.6 billion, to the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to hasten the coming of a world free of malaria.

Today we commend the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their tremendous work in combating malaria and for taking the steps to invest in the future. You can learn more about the great work and initiatives of the Gates Foundation here.

Want to participate in World Malaria Day? The international partnership of the Roll Back Malaria Project has great resources and ideas on how you can get involved.

Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Dennis Van Vliet

Dr. Van Vliet taking a CellScope selfie.

Audiologist and hearing aid specialist, Dr. Dennis Van Vliet is our Pioneer of the Week! Dr. Van Vliet has 38 years of experience and is the Senior Director of Professional Relations at Starkey Hearing Technologies. Still active in his practice, Dr. Van Vliet currently sees patients in Los Angeles, CA. He joined us this week for a short interview about his experience with the CellScope Oto.

CellScope (CS): How did you hear about the CellScope Oto?
Dr. Van Vliet (Dr. VV): Social Media. I started seeing posts on Twitter.

CS: What led you to join the Oto Pioneer Program?
Dr. VV: I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the product! We use the iPhone for a number of things, including as a remote control and accessory for hearing aids. An otoscope option was a logical next step.

CS: How have you integrated the Oto in your practice?
Dr. VV: I was out at a conference last week, and had fun showing other audiologists how it works. Today was a clinical day, and i was able to integrate it seamlessly into my work flow.

CS: What do your patients think of the Oto?
Dr. VV: The best part is the educational value for the patients. They love seeing into their ears!

CS: How has the Oto impacted your practice so far?
Dr. VV: People are naturally interested in technology, and the application is an area of interest as well as being an exceptionally easy to use clinical tool.

CS: From your perspective, how do you see mobile health technology changing healthcare in the next 5 or 10 years?
Dr. VV: There will be too many patients and not enough clinicians for the next couple of decades. Mobile applications will be very helpful in reducing the number of office visits. Last week, when I was away, a patient contacted me via Facebook, concerned that she had lacerated her ear canal. Had I known someone nearby with a Cellscope, I could have had them meet up and shoot me a photo. The only thing I could do at a distance was recommend that she go in for a office call.

Thanks for sharing with us Dr. Van Vliet, we are thrilled to have you as a CellScope Pioneer!

Ear Pic of the Week: Green T-Tubes

This week’s spectacular Ear Pic of the Week was taken by Otolaryngologist, Dr. Charles Caplan of Renton, WA.

Ear tubes as seen with the CellScope Oto.

A T tube captured by the CellScope Oto.

In the past few months the Oto has captured a lot images of ear tubes and we’ve even written about them on the blog, but this photo of an ear tube stood out from the rest. We consulted with Dr. Caplan and this is what we learned.

This T tube is used when there is a long-term need for ventilation of the middle ear space. This one looks a bit different than the typical rounded tubes, but as Dr. Caplan explains, the flanges on the outside keep it from falling into the middle ear. The long round protrusion is a handle to use to remove it. Dr. Caplan says this protrusion is not really necessary because when the tube is ready to be removed, the doctor can typically just grab the tube itself.

This patient has had several prior tube placements, and each time had a recurrence of otitis media with effusion shortly after the tube was removed. Dr. Caplan hopes this tube will stay in for several years. The tube can become clogged over time with dried mucus, so the patient must use drops to soften it before coming to Dr. Caplan’s office for a cleaning every 3-4 months.

Thank you, Dr. Caplan for the great photo and helping us to understand one of the many varieties of ear tubes.

Pioneer Spotlight: Mary Ann Gaskin, Au.D.

This week’s Pioneer of the Week is Mary Ann Gaskin, Au.D., an audiologist at Bayside Audiology & Hearing Aids in Lewes, DE.  Dr. Gaskin, who has been in a specialist in audiology diagnostics and hearing aids for 26 years, recently participated in our Pioneer spotlight interview.

How did you hear about the CellScope Oto?
From a colleague in Denver, CO. I immediately went to your website and signed up to be a Pioneer!

What led you to join the Oto Pioneer Program?
My cell phone is within 5 inches of my person where ever I am, including the office. The images I saw from my colleague were sharp and enabled visualization for a correct diagnosis. I had just spent $ 2300 on a HD video otoscope that is useless. It has poor images and we have had many issues with charging the unit. I knew the CellScope Oto would be perfect for my practice.

How have you integrated the Oto in your practice?
I use it daily with patients for diagnostic evaluation on new patients prior to conducting a hearing test. I also use it on return patients with hearing aids as they are often examined for cerumen (excess wax), a chronic problem for many hearing aid users. I used it to assist my sight line to while removing wax. It even helped me assess a hearing aid receiver that was occluded with wax.

What do your patients think of the Oto?
I am proud to share the device with everyone. Patients and colleagues alike are impressed with the images of the eardrums.

How has the Oto impacted your practice so far?
I have sent some images immediately from my cell phone to the ENT to evaluate. Compared to the computer-powered video otoscope, it’s much easier to use because I can go to my patient with my cellphone to examine the ears rather than my patients having to seat near a computer.

From your perspective, how do you see mobile health technology changing healthcare in the next 5 or 10 years?
I see the potential for more medical applications for monitoring health. The future is here! We no longer have to wait to use a smartphone in healthcare. I dispensed one of the first iPhone hearing aids last week to a patient. Now I am using my iPhone for two of the most important aspects of my job – diagnostics and hearing aids!

Ear Pic of the Week: A Tympanic Membrane Perforation & Otorrhea

Dr. Charles Caplan an Otolaryngologists from Renton, WA captured this week’s Ear Pic of the Week. He’s one of our CellScope Oto Pioneer physicians and first-time featured contributor on the Tympanic Times.

A patient with acute otitis media and a tympanic membrane perforation.

A patient with acute otitis media and a tympanic membrane perforation.

This week’s photo captured an ear infection in an elderly woman with a tympanic membrane perforation and otorrhea, or ear drainage. The perforation in the tympanic membrane appears as a small hole in the center of the photo.

Dr. Caplan says that the patient has known of the perforation for decades, but hadn’t experienced any drainage for many years. After a month of the ear drainage, the patient came in to see Dr. Caplan. The infection successfully cleared up by treating it with drops.

Thanks again, Dr. Caplan for sharing this great image.

Do you want to be able to take such clear and quality images of your patient’s ears? Sign up today to become a CellScope Pioneer here.