An Australian app is better at finding chest infections than doctors

Tourists wearing breathing masks visit The Bund in the smog in Shanghai. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

A smartphone app developed in Australia has been found to be highly accurate in detecting respiratory illness, getting better results than experienced doctors.

ResApp Health Limited today released the results of trials in Perth hospitals, showing the app correctly detected lower respiratory tract disease in 97% of patients who were initially diagnosed as clear by experienced clinicians using stethoscopes.

The company’s shares were up 2.6% to $0.26 in early trade.

The developer of smartphone medical applications has been running a clinical study among 524 child patients at Joondalup Health Campus Princess Margaret Hospital.

ResApp’s algorithms were more than 89% accurate when used to differentiate between patients with lower respiratory tract disease and patients with upper respiratory tract infections.

“We are pleased to again report high levels of accuracy on a dataset that is more than 50% larger than the previously used dataset,” says Dr Tony Keating, CEO of ResApp.

“These updated results reaffirm the algorithm’s clinical accuracy right before we enter the pivotal studies needed for our upcoming premarket submission to the US Food and Drug Administration.”

The app can diagnose respiratory disease such as pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma just by coughing into a phone.

The Perth-based company, formerly called Narhex Life Sciences, raised $4 million in July last year to develop technology at the University of Queensland, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Doctors currently rely on hearing a signature sound through a stethoscope. Diagnosis via smartphones means doctors can consult online or over the phone.

ResApp holds the exclusive license to develop and commercialise the intellectual property which uses machine-learning technology.

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