The technology, which was developed at the University of Queensland with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, can diagnose respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma from having the patient cough from up to two metres away into the microphone of a smartphone.
ResApp’s algorithms analyse the sound of the cough using machine-learning technology licensed from the University of Queensland, and looks for signatures in a cough and matches those signatures to respiratory diseases.
According to The Australian, the app has undergone extensive testing in Indonesia and had 96% accuracy testing for pneumonia and 90% testing for asthma. It’s currently undergoing testing at Joondalup Hospital in Western Australia.
By enabling diagnoses through smartphones, ResApp will allow doctors to consult online or over the phone, and even enable patients to diagnose themselves.
“Our levels of accuracy are comparable not just to a doctor listening to a stethoscope but a doctor listening to a stethoscope then sending you off to an X-ray, looking at that those X-rays and even looking at the response to antibiotics, for example, to get a final clinical diagnosis,” said Keating. “We skip the X-ray altogether; we’re breaking the model of health consultations.”
Keating’s company was recently acquired by Narhex Life Sciences, enabling ResApp to be relisted on the Australian stock exchange. Keating is currently the only employee, but he’s looking to hire software developers and clinical trial specialists to accelerate commercialisation.
“At the moment we’re looking at US telehealth companies to partner with because we’ve seen a much faster uptake of telehealth in the US; our plans are to get into the US market within 18 months,” said Keating.
In Australia telehealth is not reimbursed by insurance companies as it’s a user-pays system. In the US most states reimburse patients for telehealth.
Keating noted that advances in smartphone technology and widespread adoption meant a telehealth revolution was “inevitable.” “Just look at Uber, which is a driver on demand. There’s no reason why healthcare can’t be delivered in the same way,” concluded Keating.