An App That Can Diagnose Respiratory Illness, Based On Your Cough

The sound of a cough differs based on the respiratory illness, and structure of respiratory tract. (Image courtesy of Image Point Fr / Shutterstock)
The sound of a cough differs based on the respiratory illness, and structure of respiratory tract. (Image courtesy of Image Point Fr / Shutterstock)
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A clinical trial is underway at the Cleveland Clinic among several other U.S. hospitals to determine the accuracy of the app in diagnosing pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infections, and asthma in children.

ResApp, a digital health company in Australia, is using algorithms to identify unique patterns in coughs and breathing based on the illness. The company aims to use the app in telehealth settings, or in emergency rooms when there isn’t enough time for a full physical exam or blood work, says ResApp CEO Tony Keating.

"Our goal is to make it as accurate as possible so that an X ray, blood tests are not required," Keating said. "But again we are providing a tool for the doctor, so it’s another tool in his or her drawer of tools."

Current standard evaluation for a respiratory disease involves much more than just the sound of the cough – like listening to the lungs with a stethoscope, says Dr. Ben Gaston, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at University Hospitals. He isn’t involved in the study.

"It would be great to have sort of an acoustic signature of the cough," Gaston said. "But it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. You don’t want to leave the other pieces out."

Gaston emphasizes the importance of kids continuing to go to their doctors in person when they come down with a cough. 

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