Coughing in a smartphone may soon be needed to diagnose respiratory disorders – such as asthma or pulmonary infections.
Australian scientists have developed a smartphone application – called ResApp – which analyzes the sound of the cough of the child to determine the cause.
Technology testing has shown that it can diagnose asthma, blood, pneumonia, lower respiratory tract disease, and bronchiolitis to an accuracy of 97 per cent, according to a paper published in the medical journal Respiratory research on Thursday.
Take a look at the video above.
Co-author of the paper, Dr. Paul Porter, says that even for the most experienced doctors, it may be difficult to distinguish between respiratory disorders in children.
"This study shows how new technology, mathematical concepts, machine learning, and clinical medicine can be successfully combined to produce completely new diagnostic tests using the expertise of several disciplines," said Dr. Porter.
To develop the application, researchers at Kurtin University in Western Australia and the University of Queensland used similar speech recognition technology used by Siri and Alexa, who trained them to recognize the characteristics of coughs.
The researchers then took advantage of the Cough Categorization application from 585 children, between the ages of 29 and 12, who were accommodated in two hospitals in WA.
They asked the children to cough in the application and then compare the results with the traditional diagnosis.
"Our application is able to accurately diagnose respiratory diseases, as well as the pediatrician," said Tony Keating, Chief Executive Officer of ResApp.
We hope that the application will lead to children being treated with appropriate medications earlier, when needed.
"Since the tool does not rely on clinical trials, it can be used by healthcare providers at all levels of training and expertise," says Dr. Porter.
"However, we would advise you that, when possible, the tool in relation to a clinician should be used to increase clinical accuracy."
Doctors warn they can not replace them
The Australian Medical Association has warned that such technology should not replace doctors.
Instead, doctors should use it as a tool to improve their practice, said the special thoracic specialist and vice president of AMA, Dr. Chris Zapala.
"I do not think it's more precise than a pediatrician, because they used pediatricians as the reference standard in the test.
"So they tied the accuracy of the machine, so it was against the opinion of our doctors," Dr. Zappaala told 7NEWS.com.au.
"Something that helps the doctor to make a decision is not bad, but my concern would be if this is used in isolation, it would obviously not be appropriate."