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Volume 9, Number 8Space holderFebruary 25, 2005
photo of Walter Curioso
Walter Curioso

Cell Phones Used to Collect Medical Information in Peru

Walter Curioso, a primary care physician in Peru and a graduate student in biomedical and health informatics at the UW, is using cell phones in Peru to capture, store and transmit medical information from female sex workers in real time. The research project is part of a 20-city public health surveillance pilot project, called PREVEN, to lower the rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

Curioso's project, Cell PREVEN, partnered with Voxiva, Inc. to collect data from obstetricians and nurses who interviewed female sex workers in three cities in Peru. Using a card or following a voice menu prompt on their cell phones, the health-care workers go through a list of questions, pressing keys for yes and no answers. After completing the interview, the health care workers dial a number and are prompted to log in with a password so they can transmit their data to a server. The data is stored in an online database that can be accessed securely from anywhere in the world. For security, patients are assigned a number so no patient-identifiable information is stored or transmitted over cellular networks.

Curioso came up with the idea to use cell phones because they are very cheap and popular in Peru right now. He said he believes cell phones could help developing, or developed, countries to collect and process data more efficiently by piggy-backing off existing telephone networks and the Internet.

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