We are relying more and more on our smartphones. We use them to do any number of clinical tasks e.g. – take wound photos, access apps on pharmacology information, info on treatment schedules, palliative care symptom control, if you work in the community you might access progress notes, you can add a small plastic device and perform skin checks, and now there is the possibility to diagnose ear infections.

“Researchers at the University of Washington have created a new smartphone app that can detect fluid behind the eardrum by simply using a piece of paper and a smartphone’s microphone and speaker.  The smartphone makes a series of soft audible chirps into the ear through a small paper funnel and, depending on the way the chirps are reflected back to the phone, the app determines the likelihood of fluid present with a probability of detection of 85%. This is on par with current methods used by specialists to detect fluid in the middle ear, which involve specialized tools that use acoustics or a puff of air.”

The research team state that the accuracy is around 85% which is on par with current clinical diagnosis data. The team wants parents to be able to use the app so that they can monitor their child’s health and provide information to the medical team – identifying how long the problem has been there.

It is a relatively small study and the research team is looking to commercialize their research by creating a company to create the app. So not available yet but definitely on the horizon.

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