Mobile Future

iCough

Do you hate the cold stethoscope pressed against your back as your doctor asks for a good deep cough? Well, those days may soon be over thanks to our phones.

A recent article on Discovery News offers exciting insight into new applications for our phones, which can analyze the sound of coughs and allow doctors to make initial diagnoses.

New research by American and Australian scientists aims to diagnose cold, flu, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases by analyzing coughs with software. The research could save patients across the world a trip to the doctor’s office. Instead, they could simply cough into their cell phone and receive a diagnosis a few seconds later.

The implications for such research might not only save us a trip to the doctor’s office, but could also help reduce the spread of contagious diseases and help employers keep sick workers at home, as a recent post on Internet Evolution points out.

If the software commercially existed now, it could go far in preventing the spread of H1N1 flu, as infected people would no longer congregate in doctors’ offices, nor could they stay at work while sick. An employer could simply require any staff member to cough into her phone to check to see if the illness is contagious. Or an employer could require employees to cough into their phones before reporting in to work.

There are still a number of issues to be worked out: how to sterilize our phones after coughing into them, or how doctors will account for the factors like age, sex and weight that influence coughs. Still, the possibility of bringing the point of diagnosis from the doctor’s office to any place we can take our phones must not be overlooked.  

Our nation has been consumed over the last few months with the need to improve healthcare while reducing healthcare costs. Here’s a chance for our phones to help do both.