Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of apps for medical purposes is now possible. And, it is something that has been created after years of research in healthcare. These apps are designed to help patients save valuable time—especially if it is for a small health issue that can be resolved at home—before they go knocking on the doctor’s door.

1. myHEROsg app: Lets patients know if they need to go to ED or GP clinic

The myHEROsg app helps patients decide if they should go to a GP or the emergency department. Photo credit: NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
The myHEROsg app helps patients decide if they should go to a GP or the emergency department. Photo credit: NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

Based on an idea given by Mr Tan, myHEROsg app was created by NUS medical students in collaboration with students from other faculties. They wanted to create an app that has creative healthcare solutions to the problems that Mr Tan observed when he was a medical student posted emergency department (ED).

Speaking on how he got this idea, Mr Tan recalled, “During our postings in the ED, in the fourth year of medical school, we noticed many patients who were unhappy or frustrated because they had been waiting for a long time. These patients could have been managed in a GP clinic instead.”

It is how Mr Tan and his colleagues from the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) came up with a solution on how to make it easier for the patients. They created an app that allows the patients to see if they need to go to the ED or the GP to address their medical issue.

The myHEROsg (Health Emergency Resource Organiser) app is one of 17 entries in the student-led medical innovation programme, the Medical Grand Challenge, which was established to encourage medical students to explore creative solutions that are possible from within the healthcare industry.

This challenge also aims to foster ideas sharing and networking among students from different faculties—to create interdisciplinary teams. Associate Professor Yeoh Khay Guan, Dean of NUS Medicine, expresses that this challenge sparks a “life-long interest in innovation and also helps the students solve real life problems.”

2. MissiQ app: Gives live update of waiting time at patient’s clinic

Another app in this challenge is MissiQ, created to minimise waiting time at specialised outpatient clinics. The idea of creating this app came from third-year medical student, Benson Ang.

According to Ang, this app came from a personal experience during a visit to his clinic. He explained, “I had to stay at the clinic and wait for my turn. I could not leave the clinic because I did not know when it would be my turn. I got frustrated about the situation.”

It is why he wanted to create an app that acts like chatbot, which responds to patient queries regarding the waiting time in specialist outpatient clinics. This will help patients know the exact time when it will be their turn to see the doctor at the clinic. In other words, this app will help them make better use of their time.

3. Tiny breathalyser: Detect diseases from patient’s breath

Electrodes on the breathalyser are connected to a chemical material patch that will react to the biomarker being tested. Photo credit: Amanda Hoh/ABC Radio Sydney
Electrodes on the breathalyser are connected to a chemical material patch that will react to the biomarker being tested. Photo credit: Amanda Hoh/ABC Radio Sydney

This tiny breathalyser is an attempt by Dr Noushin Nasiri to create the world’s smallest sensor that can detect diseases through a person’s breath. Dr Nasiri, a material engineer from the University of Technology Sydney, wanted to make a different kind of breathalyser—one that is more sensitive and smaller compared to those used by the police.

Picture this tiny breathalyser with the ability of a dog’s nose. In other words, with the help of nanotechnology, it can analyse your breath to detect any underlying illnesses. This technology comes in the shape of a rectangular disk that might just be available in the future in your smartphone’s special slot.

In addition, it consists of a basic sensor that is layered with a chemical material, which is sensitive or reactive to the unique biomarker. With the help of nanotechnology, the sensor becomes supersensitive to the nanoparticles in breath, and can calculate the concentration of that biomarker.

Since a biomarker is produced when your body goes through a change—it finds ways to come out of the body (e.g. through urine, sweat, tears, saliva or your breath). According to Dr Nasiri, this technology is similar to “going for a blood test; except that it will be done without any needles sticking in and the results will be instant.”

Right now, this tiny breathalyser can detect four to eight diseases. The goal is to develop a sensor that will be able to detect more than ten diseases in just one breath. There’s hope that the base product might just hit the market in about three years.

4. Ada app: AI-powered doc helps patients figure out what they are suffering from

A free app, Ada Personal Health Companion is currently available for download for smartphones and tablets.

It is one of the healthcare apps that could tell its users the reason why they are sick. The user would need to just list out the symptoms and answer some questions to get their diagnosis on the spot.

Developed by Ada Health, this app forms part of many other AI-driven healthcare apps that allow its users to figure out what they are going through – without the need to visit a doctor. There’s also the option of having their case reviewed by a human doctor – an option that is available at only GBP14.99.

Just like people sometimes use Google to find out what they are suffering from, these AI-driven apps also want to provide credible medical advice to smartphones and tablets users. Users have to go through a clinical-grade triage process to get credible medical advice.

Consumers have enjoyed using AI-driven healthcare apps so far, especially since AI has showcased its reliability in detecting certain diseases. After all, data scientists have spent many years of research to get an artificial intelligence platform that is credible and accurate. MIMS

Ada app is a user-friendly AI health companion that checks the symptoms of patients by asking a series of individualised questions.
Ada app is a user-friendly AI health companion that checks the symptoms of patients by asking a series of individualised questions.

Read more:
Healthcare technology: 3 wearable innovations doctors may soon be prescribing to patients
4 more up-and-coming medical technologies to revolutionise healthcare
7 medical apps healthcare professionals should know about

Sources:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-31/detecting-disease-in-breath-with-world-smallest-breathalyser/8759050
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2141247-an-app-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/
http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/nus-students-develop-apps-help-patients