Duke has high hopes for autism app capabilities

Image credit: Duke University

A Duke University research app is helping thousands of parents determine their children's risk for autism while also helping to foster more mobile health tools for early mental health issue diagnosis.

The Autism and Beyond mobile app, which uses the Apple ResearchKit platform, initially launched October when the tool was rolled out for testing as a potential screening tool. As FierceMobileHealthcare reported, Duke University and Duke Medicine teamed up with Pekin University in China, and several other global partners, on an "Autism & Beyond" study/app on using the iPhone camera for improved detection of development issues in young children.

Results so far appear promising, according to an article in Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle. More than 2,300 people have participated in the study, and according to Guillermo Sapiro, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who helped develop Autism and Beyond, the tool has proven to be as accurate as experts.

“Having a diagnosis much sooner will help parents take better care of their children and be more patient with them and help them be as successful as they can be,” Richard Bloomfield, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, and mobile technology strategy director for Duke Medicine, told The Chronicle.

Bloomfield is hopeful the app will prove to be even more robust in the near future. A better diagnosis and autism management approach is a personal quest, as well as a research strategy, as one of Bloomfield’s children has been diagnosed with autism.

“Healthcare is only going to improve as we learn better ways and more efficient and effective ways to take care of our patients,” Bloomfield said. “Tools like this are going to help get us there. We clearly need to expand.” 

Going forward, according to the Chronicle, Duke’s app and research expansion will focus on providing parents more guidance and advice on and where to find support resources.