New mobile app provides faster, more accurate measurement of respiratory rate

June 19, 2014

A new mobile app developed by researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) at BC Children's Hospital and the University of British Columbia can measure respiratory rate in children roughly six times faster than the standard manual method.

According to findings published this month in PLOS One, RRate can reliably measure respiratory rate in an average of 9.9 seconds. Currently, workers typically measure respiratory rate by counting a patient's breaths for 60 seconds using a stop watch.

"Mobile phones are changing how we administer health care, especially in rural settings and developing countries where access to medical devices is limited," says Dr. Walter Karlen, who co-led the study with Dr. Heng Gan. "With this , we can give with few resources faster and more accurate measurements, help them make better decisions, and give them more time with their patients."

Dr. Karlen is a UBC Postdoctoral Fellow. At the time of this study, Dr. Gan was a Clinical Research Fellow. Both are working with Dr. Mark Ansermino and Dr. Guy Dumont at CFRI, UBC and BC Children's.

Researchers say this simple, but innovative piece of technology is a big step towards better diagnoses for children with pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death of children worldwide according to the World Health Organization. With timely and accurate diagnosis, children with pneumonia can often be saved with simple interventions such as antibiotics.

RRate allows workers to measure respiratory rate by tapping the touch screen every time the inhales. In addition to calculating the rate of inhalations during a given time, the app also provides an animation of a breathing baby, allowing for a direct comparison with the breathing patient. A free, non-study version of the app is available online.

"We are leveraging the phone's capabilities of computing, touch screen, and vibrational feedback to measure respiratory rate faster and with more confidence," says Dr. Karlen.

Researchers collected data from 30 subjects who used the app while watching videos of children breathing at different rates. Using these findings, they developed an algorithm that enabled the app to produce accurate measurements in the least amount of time.

The next stage of this research is to further improve the diagnosis of pneumonia in low-resource settings by combining this app with the Phone Oximeter. Developed by CFRI and UBC , the Phone Oximeter provides non-invasive measurements of blood oxygen levels using a light sensor and a mobile phone.

Explore further: Smartphones and tablets could provide universal access to medical monitoring

Related Stories

Smartphones and tablets could provide universal access to medical monitoring

September 23, 2013
Do you have a smartphone in your pocket or purse? If so, you may be carrying the future of mobile medical monitoring technology, according to a special article in the October issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal ...

GaitTrack app makes cellphone a medical monitor for heart, lung patients

May 7, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—By simply carrying around their cellphones, patients who suffer from chronic disease could soon have an accurate health monitor that warns their doctors when their symptoms worsen.

'Blood lab' inside a mobile phone could detect cancer

April 23, 2014
Plans to design a smart phone app that can detect leukaemia will be among the innovations presented by Northumbria University researchers at the Centre for Life this weekend.

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.