Although there are more than half a million apps in the iPhone App store, it is a fact that a few human interests are un-catered for. One can fling exploding birds at hunkered-down pigs, download books as well as tour the stars. Academics are now starting to spread on the app action.
Researchers at Liverpool University launched ClickClinica, a free app for doctors, earlier this month. From bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), it brings together authoritative guidelines for handling medical issues, in order for doctors to be able to check best practices before treating their patients.
However, making it more than a digital reference book, the app has a second feature. A doctor can record what symptoms their patient has and the treatment they provided, with just a single click. Users of this app can get real-time global disease surveillance from around the world by collecting enough of these records.
Benedict Michael, a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) research fellow at the university's Institute of Infection and Global Health, developed this app. More than 1,000 doctors downloaded ClickClinica in its first month. ClickClinica has recorded three new cases of TB in Britain, in the West Midlands and the North East, including one who developed meningitis.
In addition, another five cases of the severe brain infection, encephalitis, were picked up in the UK, as was a new case of H1N1 influenza. In other countries, reports from doctors have helped researchers identify nine new cases of HIV, in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Galilee, and one case that required therapy for a drug-resistant virus.
Other information gathered by the app sheds light on the quality of clinical care that patients receive. For instance, 48 heart attacks were reported in the first month, however, only two got to a hospital in time to receive potentially life-saving, clot-busting drugs.
Edited by Brooke Neuman