Mobile phones help patients monitor lung function

Mobile phones may prove just as viable as lung function monitors as today's spirometers, and may be a cheaper option for many patients. 

Use of traditional spirometers in lower economic communities is challenging because of cost and availability of the devices, according to a new University of Washington study. But lung function monitoring outside of a clinical setting is a crucial aspect in a wide range of lung ailments, from asthma to cystic fibrosis.

However, with the growth of smartphones comes the ability to use the tools to monitor lung function through the telephony voice channel--basically via phone call.

For the study, researchers evaluated a smartphone-based system called SpiroCall, comparing ease of use and validity of the tool against top-tier medical spirometers. SpiroCall requiers users to call a 1-800 number, then exhale into the mobile phone. Data was collected on two iPhones, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a Sony Ericsson.

"People have to manage chronic lung diseases for their entire lives," Mayank Goel, lead study author and a UW computer science and engineering doctoral student, said in an announcement. "So there's a real need to have a device that allows patients to accurately monitor their condition at home without having to constantly visit a medical clinic, which in some places requires hours or days of travel."

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported late last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration green-lit a mobile spirometer, featuring Bluetooth sensors and working off a smartphone or tablet.

The UW study found that SpiroCall results were within 6.2 percent of the results from clinical spirometers, proving clear accuracy.

For more information:
- read the study
- here's the University of Washington announcement

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