One Tiny Box May Replace Doctors Completely
The news: Want to know how healthy you are? Don't look at the scale. A new device is not only going to change the future of medicine, it's going to change how we view our own personal health.
So what is this mysterious, portable, handheld box?
It's called rHEALTH, and it's so highly sophisticated, it can diagnose hundreds of diseases with just a drop of blood.
The science: Instead of taking vials of blood like with a conventional blood test, rHEALTH only needs one drop. The blood goes into a receptacle where nanostrips react to it. This mixture goes into a spiral mixture that prepares it for laser analysis. After a few minutes, users will be told if they've got the flu, pneumonia or something more serious.
Currently, rHEALTH can count cells, detect HIV, determine vitamin D levels and assess various protein markers, which allows it to spot certain ailments.
A new factor in health care: Nothing like this has existed in the consumer marketplace before. Unlike health tools like Apple Health and Fitbit, rHEALTH focuses on diagnostics rather than simply monitoring caloric intake and expenditure.
"There used to be no method for good, autonomous diagnosis," Dr. Eugene Chan, the project's lead scientist, told Wired. "RHEALTH technology is highly sensitive, quantitative and capable of meeting the FDA's bar for sophistication, while still being geared for consumers."
RHealth is still several years from a pharmacy shelf, however, and there could be a good reason for waiting. The Food and Drug Administration shut down a DIY genetic testing service last year on the grounds that such technologies led people to make rash, detrimental health decisions without consulting a medical professional about the information they got.
Still, rHEALTH's potential release could reshape medical diagnostics and personal health. Being able to diagnose hundreds of diseases and vitamin deficiencies with a household device is an obvious boon to health care, and the availability of health data beyond the numbers on a scale could present an empowering tool for people looking to manage their own health and fitness.
It may not replace that apple a day, but in a society that's increasingly waistline-obsessed, any invention that gets people to view the bigger picture is a welcome addition to our medicine cabinet.