Award-winning smartphone screener for oral lesions an infection risk?

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The inexpensive OScan device clips to a smartphone’s camera side and illuminates the mouth cavity with fluorescent light, which highlights any mouth lesion. This enables easy detection by a clinician and transmission of the image. Designed for developing countries where smoking and oral cancer rates are high but dental clinics are lacking, it won second place in this year’s Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project (prize of $200,000), and a corresponding mHealth Alliance award of $50,000 in strategic and networking support. Developed by Manu Prakash, PhD, of Stanford University. Medgadget article. Vodafone Americas announcement. Stanford University announcement.

However, David Doherty, a/k/a the 3G Doctor, is quite critical of the OScan in its present form as an infection carrier.  Is the mouth unit sterilizable? Disposable?  Is the imaging unit going to be used repeatedly without the preceding?  And what about the smartphone itself which is very near the patient, and in unsanitary areas (as demonstrated)? He goes on to score certain organizations and prior devices for being rather cavalier about these issues based upon the record (“an attitude that seems to exist amongst US University based efforts to innovate with a “let’s go test this in unregulated emerging markets first”). All good points, although I think the last may be applicable to academia anywhere. Why is the mHealth market failing to properly assess infection control risks? And follow up to Doherty’s post to Sara Jackson on FierceMobileHealthcare’s article on the OScan, including the larger issue of mobile devices carrying all sorts of bacteria: Infection control sidelined in rush to mobile? (Editor Donna just got out her alcohol wipes…)