Could a Mobile App Actually Detect an Acute Stroke?

A very interesting study was recently conducted in Canada that may very well lead to the widespread use of mobile apps in clinical situations.  There are already numerous apps that can help patients deal with managing diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and even cancer treatments, but this study, published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research suggests that mobile apps may also be effective in clinical situations.

The study took place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and utilized a teleradiology system for the diagnosis of acute stroke.  I am no doctor, and I don’t claim to understand most of what was in the actual report, but there are a few things that I did understand that could prove to be extremely noteworthy in the future.

The study used currently available smart phones to see if the devices could handle the imagery necessary to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of acute stroke.

According to the study, “The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting intraparenchymal hemorrhage were 100% using the iOS device…”.  Like I said, I am no doctor, but 100% is pretty darn good when it comes to diagnosing any kind of disease or injury.  While the results are impressive the study ultimately had the following conclusion:

The smartphone client-server teleradiology system appears promising and may have the potential to allow urgent management decisions in acute stroke. However, this study was retrospective, involved relatively few patient studies, and only two readers. Generalizing conclusions about its clinical utility, especially in other diagnostic use cases, should not be made until additional studies are performed.

As they stated in their own report this is an extremely small sample size with plenty of restrictions and shortcomings, but it does shed some light on what the future may hold.  With further studies and research doctors may well be able to save lives using their smartphones.  I am sure there will be plenty of naysayers out there, but if we have the technology to save lives we are only hurting ourselves if we don’t use it.