Published: 00:01, 10 July 2016
There really is an app for everything these days - and one that allows doctors and nurses to look inside your ear using their mobile phones is being trialled in Medway.
Using a unique attachment connected to the phone’s camera, the Cupris Health app takes photos and videos of the ear canal and ear drum, which are sent to specialist consultants.
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant Professor Rahul Kanegaonkar is leading the pilot scheme at Medway Maritime Hospital.
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He said: “What it allows is a clinician or health professional to examine someone's ear with the otoscope attachment and take photos and videos.
“They also perform a basic hearing test using headphones and answer a series of questions we have formulated.
“All that data is relayed back to a website that a consultant like me can go through.”
VIDEO: The app allows doctors to look inside patients' ears
Professor Kanegaonkar adds: “I can then screen those patients who might need to come and see me and recommend initial treatment for those who might not need to come and see me straight away.”
By the end of the 12-month trial, 200 of Prof Kanegaonkar’s patients will have undergone the usual tests but also have been tested using the app, allowing the team to directly compare the results.
If the pilot is successful, the app could then be used by GPs, nurses, and any health professionals, to test patients in their homes, doctors’ surgeries or care homes, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital.
For example, if a patient has a build-up of wax they can be treated by their GP, but if the image shows a more serious problem, such as cholesteatoma – a cyst that slowly erodes bone and can cause facial paralysis – they can be called in to hospital for treatment.
Prof Kanegaonkar said: “The images are surprisingly good. You can even see blood vessels on the surface.
It is as good as otoscopy and arguably a little bit better.
“It also means you can take an image which can be stored and that allows you to see if things are changing.
“With the manual otoscope you have to describe what you see or make a rudimentary diagram.”
So far, the research has had positive feedback from patients who say they value the fact that they can be shown pictures and videos of their ears so they can understand their problem better.