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Gadgets improve health care, keep costs low

December 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Researchers are working on new gadgets to improve health care and help patients save money on it.

The devices they're creating could be in doctors' offices or even patients' homes within the next few years.

A recent study found Americans are throwing away $33 million on unnecessary complete blood cell counts during routine check-ups.

Professors and students at the Medical Electronic Device Realization Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are looking to lower the cost of common blood testing and reduce the wait for results.

MEDRC researchers are routing blood-cells through a chip with electricity. They're able to make cells maneuver in any direction.

The idea is to create a device that uses a drop of blood instead of a whole vial for various blood tests. It could cut-out costly lab work and get patients' results in minutes.

Researchers are also developing a wearable vitals monitor. It measures heart rate and blood pressure at the head and could help doctors track conditions like high blood pressure more accurately and continuously to better personalize treatment.

Researchers hope a smart ultrasound they're working on will lead to more accurate and more frequent imaging of things like tumors. They want images comparable to X ray without the higher cost or risk of radiation.