Sunday, October 7, 2012

Smartphone app helps patients sort out pills

There is an app for almost everything nowadays. Smartphones have also steadily been finding their way into the world of healthcare and medical science. A recently released app from the US National Institutes of Health helps patients identify drugs by taking pictures of pills. By comparing the images with a database, this system ought to help patients taking the right type of pill, should they be taking multiple medications.

The underlying mechanism works by looking at shape and colour, but can also identify imprints on a pill. Because patients take pictures with their phone camera, the software has access to all this data. According to the US National Institutes of Health, their system can identify the pill with an accuracy of 91 percent. So far, 568 pills have been tried and tested, and added to the database. According to the developers, these pills are taken from the list of most-prescribed drugs.

Such apps would come in handy for patients that take a lot of different medications. Because taking the wrong type of medicine at the wrong time can potentially be toxic, it is important to take the drugs as prescribed. Therefore, a smartphone app would come in handy for those that frequently mix up pills, of which a risk group would probably be the elderly. Unfortunately, this risk group is also probably the most unlikely to have a smartphone.

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