App tracks coughs and phlegm to treat lung dis­ease

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Natasha Ber­nal

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.

Skulp­ture

A solo ex­hi­bi­tion of 21 works by the Chi­nese artist Jacky Tsai has opened in Unit Lon­don in May­fair. He has adapted his iconic flo­ral skull de­sign, orig­i­nally cre­ated for Alexan­der Mc­Queen, into a flo­ral, leather

sculp­tural form at the cen­tre of the show, called Rein­car­na­tion. Tsai’s prac­tice unites cul­tural in­flu­ences from the East and West, blend­ing Chi­nese craft tra­di­tion with western pop iconog­ra­phy.

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