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A mobile screening tool that attaches to a conventional camera phone to help rural health workers screen for oral cancer has been named the winner of the third annual mHealth Alliance Award.
Developed by researchers at Stanford University, the OScan is designed to immediately transmit oral scans from a rural clinic to a dentist or other specialist. The tool is targeted for developing countries, which account for 70 percent of the world’s tobacco consumption and where incidences of oral cancer and other tobacco-related diseases are rising sharply.
mHealth Alliance officials say easy, inexpensive screening tools will enable health workers to more quickly identify those in the early stages of the disease and coordinate proper treatment, as well as allowing them to teach proper oral hygiene to remote, rural populations. The device is currently being tested in India, a nation whose rural population might see one dentists for every 250,000 people.
“The OScan team at Stanford University has developed an affordable screening tool that brings standardized, multi-modal imaging of the oral cavity into the hands of rural health workers around the world, allowing individuals to conduct screenings for oral lesions,” the group – consisting of Manu Prakash, James Clements, Dhruv Boddupalli and Aditya Ganda – reports on its website. “This inexpensive device mounts on a conventional camera phone and allows for data to be instantly transmitted to dentists and oral surgeons. OScan aims to empower minimally skilled health workers to connect early stage patients to health care providers and teach communities about the importance of oral hygiene.”
The OScan was also named the second-place winner in the fourth annual Vodaphone Americas Foundation Wirelsss Innovation Project, held in conjunction with the mHealth Alliance Award.
“The Vodafone Americas Foundation partnership with the mHealth Alliance is exceptionally powerful in that it allows us to propel ideas for wireless technology into action,” said Patty Mechael, executive director of the mHealth Alliance, in a press release. “The field of mHealth is constantly growing, and now more than ever it is essential for us to support innovations that will enable us to overcome development challenges and have a meaningful impact on people's lives. This kind of competition inspires entrepreneurs and innovators to explore uncharted territory, enabling the realization of visionary ideas that improve communities throughout the world.”
First place in the Vodaphone contest was awarded to the Wireless Bug Sensor, developed by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, and ISCA Technologies, which detects the location, type and number of insects in a particular field and alerts farmers, via text message, with advice on how to combat the pests. Third place was awarded to InVenture for its InSight money management tool, which allows entrepreneurs in developing countries to track their finances in their native language and create access to credit reporting opportunities,
“It's incredibly energizing to be able recognize these innovative solutions for social good,” said June Sugiyama, director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation, in the press release. “This is our fourth year of this competition and we continue to identify unique and impactful solutions.”
The Wireless Bug Sensor’s creators received a $300,000 award for their first place award, while InVenture pocketed $100,000 for its award. Stanford’s OScan team received $200,000 for its second-place award in the Vodaphone competition and another $50,000 in strategic and networking support from the mHealth Alliance for winning that contest.
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