Seven years ago, Dr. Iltifat Husain, the founder of iMedicalApps, wrote about groundbreaking software algorithms that had the potential to diagnose respiratory disease by “listening” to a cough. Last year, we put it on our list of apps to keep an eye on. Recently, Australia-based ResApp announced that Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital have received institutional review board (IRB) approval to move forward with using the SMARTCOUGH-C study.
The SMARTCOUGH-C study will be a prospective, multi-site, double blinded study that will evaluate the efficacy of the ResAppDx software for diagnosing childhood pneumonia and other respiratory conditions from the sound of a cough. The primary endpoints for the study will be the diagnosis of pneumonia with secondary endpoints being diagnosis of other common childhood respiratory diseases such as upper respiratory tract infection, croup, bronchiolitis and asthma. ResApp has already gone through a small proof-of-concept trial and was shown to be 90 percent accurate.
ResApp uses the microphone to record breath sounds and coughs, and utilizes an algorithm to diagnose common respiratory diseases . The medical app, developed by the University of Queensland and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, records the user’s cough and runs it against an algorithm to determine the type of illness and the severity. The potential for this mobile technology is immeasurable for “telemedicine.” Being able to email the sounds of a cough or even send that sound via an app would have huge implications for telemedicine. Importantly, its effect on health care in developing countries or war zones could be considerable as well — which is one of the reasons the Gates foundation was one of the initial backers of the project.