Doctors Without Borders will conduct a clinical study on ResApp Health‘s respiratory disease app ResAppDx in a lower-income rural setting, the company announced.
The study will evaluate ResAppDx for its diagnostic potential in conditions such as pneumonia, according to the Australia-based digital health company. ResApp Health is focused on developing apps that require only a smartphone in the diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases.
ResAppDx is an investigational device in the U.S. and is not available for sale.
The company was created to commercialize technology developed by University of Queensland Associate Prof. Udantha Abeyratne that uses sound to diagnose respiratory diseases. ResApp uses a machine learning approach — an artificial intelligence technique based on the ability to learn from data to develop highly accurate algorithms that can diagnose diseases based on coughing and other respiratory sounds.
Typically, doctors use stethoscopes to listen to the lungs for a first indication of problems in the respiratory tract. However, information available from these sounds is often compromised because they must first pass through the chest musculature, which muffles the sounds. In contrast, the lungs are directly connected to the atmosphere during respiratory events such as coughing.
The company’s technology is based on the premise that audible coughing and breathing sounds monitored by ResApp carry significantly more information on the condition of the respiratory tract than sounds detected using a stethoscope.
ResApp’s automated approach dispenses with the need for human interpretation of respiratory sounds. The platform is based on sound alone and does not require physical contact with the patient.
Because modern smartphones incorporate high-quality microphones, the ResApp platform can be used without the need for additional hardware. ResApp is creating ResAppDX smartphone apps to aid in the diagnosis and management of chronic and acute respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, bronchiolitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The company named the nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins San Frontières as its humanitarian organization partner in moving toward a clinical study on ResAppDx in lower-income rural settings.
Doctors Without Borders delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion, and natural disasters, implementing and managing medical projects in nearly 70 countries worldwide and operating national offices in 21 countries.
ResApp Health and Doctors Without Borders are collaborating on the project to ensure that the children who will benefit most from this technology are not left behind.
“We are very pleased with the collaboration to date and we have used the feedback obtained to refine ResAppDx even further for the difficult environments in which [Doctors Without Borders] operates,” Tony Keating, CEO and managing director of ResApp, said in a press release. “We are looking forward to evaluating the clinical performance of ResAppDx in some of the most challenging conditions that doctors encounter.”
Respiratory diseases are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the developing world, and pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under the age of 5, with 99 percent of those deaths occurring in less-developed countries.
ResApp notes that according to the World Health Organization, pneumonia kills more than 950,000 children under 5 annually. Many of these deaths are caused by delays in accurate diagnoses due to the lack of adequate medical care in what are often remote or war-torn regions.
Global aid and humanitarian organizations have a critical need for low-cost and accurate diagnostic tools that can be used not only by trained medical professionals but also by untrained people under difficult field conditions.
ResApp Health is currently recruiting U.S. participants for a clinical trial called “Diagnosing Respiratory Disease in Children Using Cough Sounds” (SMARTCOUGH-C; NCT02973282) to evaluate the effectiveness of it ResAppDx software application for the diagnosis of pneumonia and other respiratory conditions in infants and children. The ResAppDx diagnosis will be compared to radiologic diagnosis and/or clinical diagnosis.