Scientists have found that a smartphone application performed a better wrist-artery blood flow assessment than a traditional physical examination when used on patients undergoing coronary angiography.
According to a randomised trial published by the University of Ottawa in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the smartphone application, which uses the phone's camera function, is said to highlight the potential of phone apps to help doctors and consultants make decisions at the bedside.
"Because of the widespread availability of smartphones, they are being used increasingly as point-of-care diagnostics in clinical settings with minimal or no cost," said Dr. Benjamin Hibbert, who led the research.
"For example, built-in cameras with dedicated software or photodiode sensors using infrared light-emitting diodes have the potential to render smartphones into functional plethysmographs [instruments that measure changes in blood flow]."
The findings were concocted by the University researchers by comparing the use of a heart-rate monitoring app called the Instant Heart Rate on an iPhone 4S using the modified Allen test, which measures blood flow in the radial and ulnar arteries of the wrist and thus access the heart for coronary angiography.
A total of 438 participants were split into two groups: one group was assessed using the app and the other was assessed using a "gold-standard traditional physical examination", known as the Allen test. The smartphone app had a diagnostic accuracy of 94 per cent compared with 84 per cent using the traditional method.
"The current report highlights that a smartphone application can outperform the current standard of care and provide incremental diagnostic yield in clinical practice," added Dr. Hibbert.
"Although this application is not certified at present for use in health care by any regulatory body, our study highlights the potential for smartphone-based diagnostics to aid in clinical decision-making at the patient's bedside," concluded Dr. Hibbert.
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