Smartphone App Shown to Accurately Diagnose Respiratory Illnesses Like COPD

Janet Stewart, MSc avatar

by Janet Stewart, MSc |

Share this article:

Share article via email
app diagnoses COPD

ResApp‘s smartphone app, called ResAppDx, diagnoses a wide range of respiratory illnesses accurately by using cough sounds, the company reported. The app is successful in diagnosing both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and aggravations of COPD caused by infections, pneumonia, and acute asthma.

ResApp’s technology detects cough sounds through the phone’s microphone from up to two ­meters away. Algorithms (mathematical formulas) then analyze the sound using machine-learning, a kind of artificial intelligence that can “learn” to recognize patterns, in this case in the sound of an individual person’s cough.

Testing of ResAppDx was done by a team led by Associate Prof. Udantha Abeyratne at The University of Queensland in Australia.

Tests were performed to assess if the app could distinguish cases of pneumonia from acute asthma episodes in adults, and also if it could detect asthma and COPD in adult patients referred for lung function tests.

COPD diagnosis using ResAppDx was found to be 87% accurate compared to lung function tests in 153 patients, 41 of whom had COPD. Lung function tests like spirometry and bronchodilator response are the “gold standard,” the most accurate diagnostic tool for COPD.

The app was also tested in 103 patients with COPD exacerbations due to lung infections and in 62 COPD patients without exacerbations. COPD exacerbations are among the leading causes of hospital admissions and readmissions in adults, and represent a considerable financial burden.

In the test, the app was seen to detect 91% of cases of COPD exacerbations and correctly identified 90% of patients without exacerbations.

The app allows doctors and patients to consult the results online or over a smartphonephone.

A clinical trial (NCT02973282) testing the app to diagnose pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses in children is currently underway.

“Delivering accurate results within an adult intended use population is an excellent step forward, further demonstrating that ResApp’s algorithms can be applied effectively in a group of patients with a very broad range of respiratory illnesses,” Tony Keating, CEO and managing director of ResApp Health, said in a press release.

“We now have a strong foundation from which we can pursue pivotal adult clinical studies in support of regulatory submissions,” Keating said.

“In particular, this new comparison to the gold standard of lung function testing provides an exceptional opportunity to run well-controlled studies for a number of diagnostic tests which have a significant clinical need and outstanding commercial opportunities,” he added.