Biomedical engineers at Georgia Tech developed an app that uses images of a patient’s fingernails to assess whether the level of haemoglobin in their blood seems low.
Rob Mannino, the developer of this ingenious app, has beta-thalassemia. He said that it was a hassle for him to visit a hospital for blood tests in between transfusions. Doctors were able to estimate when he would need a transfusion, based on his haemoglobin level trends, through the app.
“Every single one of us at some point is at risk for anemia,” said principal investigator Wilbur Lam. “Rob has essentially developed a way in which anybody now can answer the question ‘am I anemic’ and all they need is a smartphone.”
According to lam, all point-of-care anemia detection tools require external equipment and are invasive and have a cost associated with them. However, this app can detect haemoglobin levels without the need to draw blood.
The technology could be used by anyone at any time and could be especially appropriate for pregnant women, women with abnormal menstrual bleeding, or runners/athletes. Its simplicity means it could be useful in developing countries. Clinical diagnostic tools have strict accuracy requirements, but Mannino and Lam said that with additional research, they can eventually achieve the accuracy needed to replace blood-based anemia testing for clinical diagnosis.