The New York Times profiles several medical devices that attach to iPhones and similar devices.
As with almost all internet and computer related technologies, there is zero discussion as to whether these devices are legal. Medical devices require FDA approval and for good reason. There is no way to know if these devices are suited for the purposes they claim, or if these are tasks properly performed by non-professionals.
My wife, an experienced audiologist, notes that she had to spend a long time learning to look in people’s eardrums. It is not simply just looking straight in, and there is a strong potential for inexperienced people to scratch the
eardrums ear canal (apologize for the initial error) when using the home otoscope device. This is especially true when dealing with a child in pain from a possible ear infection who is not going to be a fan of the device in his or her ear. Furthermore, the use of photos to diagnose medical conditions seems to leave even more room for doubt that doctors have a sufficiently good view of what they are looking at. Many doctors aren’t so good at diagnosing ear infections to begin with.
The solution to high health care costs is not to shift responsibility to individuals with no medical experience. It is to make sure we have access to experienced primary care doctors at reasonable cost and reasonably priced drugs (see the price of ciprodex, a drop for ear infections that is astronomically expensive for a tiny bottle).