New Smartphone App Detects Newborn Jaundice



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This week on the Health Tech Weekly Podcast let’s take a look at a pretty cool smart phone app that could help parents of newborns work with their nurses and pediatricians to assess their babies for neonatal or newborn jaundice. Programmers at the University of Washington worked together with doctors to create the Bilicam which comes up with an approximate bilirubin level based on a photograph of the baby’s skin color taken with a smartphone’s camera. Hyperbilirubinemia occurs in most, if not all neonates. As the newborn ages, eventually the level of bilirubin, a by product of the breakdown of red blood cells, usually decreases naturally.

newborn jaundice appThe question for many parents who have taken their new baby home is whether they need to take their baby back in for a blood test to follow up on it and get treatment, usually photo-therapy with ultraviolet light. The camera app works by using a color calibration card that is placed in the camera’s frame when the photo is taken. This gives the camera and the app software a known color value to gauge the skin against. Then the app examines the photograph taken and compares the values with a cloud-based algorithm to come up with an approximate bilirubin level.

The app is still in the research phase and the team at the University of Washington are planning on testing the app on 1000 newborns in coming months to further calibrate the system for different lighting and skin tones. I love to see this type of assessment tool coming to mobile devices because it means that for nurses like me, we will all have full diagnostic suites soon at our fingertips wherever we encounter our patients. Stay tuned for more on this and other mobile app breakthroughs here on Health Tech Weekly in future episodes.

This episode sponsored in part by CES Partner HearNotes.com.

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That will wrap up this episode of Health Tech Weekly. Make sure you follow up over at our website, HTWeekly.com, for more information on this and all of our episodes. There are additional resource links, links to trusted resources for living a healthier lifestyle and more. If you have a comment on this week’s episode please get back in touch with me either over at HTWeekly.com in comment links for each article or shoot me an email at podmedic@mac.com.


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