App tracks coughs and phlegm to treat lung disease
DOCTORS will soon be able to monitor lung disease patients and determine which treatments they require through technology similar to Apple’s Siri and Fitbit, IBM scientists have said.
The US tech firm is trialling an artificial intelligence-powered app that can listen to patients’ coughing, and analyse their phlegm by uploading photos.
It tracks the efficiency of treatment outside of hospital so it can be adjusted in real time, and is able to alert a doctor if it thinks the patient is getting worse.
Patients with additional heart problems would be tracked by a Fitbit-style armband, while a breathalyser can measure their lung capacity.
The app is designed to help treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is caused mainly by smoking and air pollution and is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation.
The technology will be trialled by two groups of people in Switzerland next month and early next year.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that the Department of Health is among those keeping tabs on the trial, after Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, last month outlined a tech vision that included a revamp of NHS digital systems and better access to technology for patients.
Dr Thomas Brunschwiler, the IBM researcher in charge of the project, said the app’s AI was designed to look for trends and show doctors the progress of the disease by compiling large amounts of data including types and frequency of coughing, the colour of phlegm or heart performance during exercise. “Physicians don’t have time to look at 10 markers for each patient,” he added.
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