A new smart phone application is being developed, that can measure heart rate, heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation from the patient’s fingertip.
The new app uses the phone’s integrated video camera, and is claimed to be as accurate as standard medical monitors currently in clinical use.
Authors of the study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts, USA, stated: “This gives a patient the ability to carry an accurate physiological monitor anywhere, without additional hardware beyond what's already included in many consumer mobile phones.”
“One of the advantages of mobile phone monitoring is that it allows patients to make baseline measurements at any time, building a database that could allow for improved detection of disease states.”
The application, developed by Ki Chon, Professor and Head of Biomedical Engineering, and colleagues at WPI, analyses video clips recorded while the patient's fingertip is pressed against the lens of the phone's camera.
The camera's light penetrates the skin, reflecting off blood in the finger. The device’s technology is able to link subtle changes in colour with changes in the patient's vital signs.
Chon’s team of researchers is also developing a version of the mobile monitoring technology for use on video-equipped tablets.
“We believe there are many applications for this technology, to help patients monitor themselves, and to help clinicians care for their patients,” Chon said.
The UK Government’s Department of Health called for new healthcare app ideas in August 2011.