Smartphone app for reporting Cystic Fibrosis symptoms

Summary of technology

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common genetic diseases and sufferers have a life expectancy of just 40 years of age. While CF affects multiple organs in the body, it is primarily a lung disease that leads to lung transplantation or premature death. Symptoms, such as coughing, sputum and shortness of breath exacerbate the decline in lunch function. Severe exacerbations require treatment with intravenous antibiotics, however the lung function of many patients does not improve after treatment. A major factor in this failure to regain lung function is the delay between a patient experiencing exacerbations and presenting to a CF healthcare team for treatment. Busy schedules, financial considerations, a lack of understanding, and anxiety and depression can contribute to a patient not seeking timely treatment.

In collaboration with the Cornell University Burke Rehabilitation and Research Institute, Curtin University has developed a smartphone app to enable patients of cystic fibrosis to easily and quickly report their symptoms to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s specialist CF healthcare team. This will help overcome the barriers that prevent people with CF from communicating changes in their health to the specialist team, and allow for faster initiation of treatment. We expect the app to not only improve access to care, but also improve health outcomes and reduce the need for lengthy hospital admissions. If successful, teenagers and adults with CF in Australia and the rest of the world could benefit from this application. 

Advantages

The app:

  • is quick and easy to use
  • aims to improve the patient’s long-term health outcomes
  • connects the user directly to the specialist medical team, allowing the team to initiate treatment faster
  • can be applied to other chronic disease groups.

Researchers

The project is coordinated by Jamie Wood, a PhD student at the Curtin University School of Physiotherapy, and Exercise Science and Senior Physiotherapist, Cystic Fibrosis at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. The project team also includes Director of Telemedicine and Virtual Rehabilitation at Burke Rehabilitation and Research Institute (New York) Associate Professor David Putrino, who is a leading health software developer.

Intellectual property

Curtin is leading the commercialisation of the technology, with input from the other collaborators.

Stage of development

We have developed a working prototype of the smartphone app and have initiated a pilot study to investigate its usability. A larger clinical trial investigating the impact of the smartphone app on health outcomes in adults with cystic fibrosis is planned to commence in late 2015 and due for completion in early 2017.

Opportunity

We invite any partner organisations wishing to engage with large numbers of cystic fibrosis and other chronic disease patients to contact us to discuss licensing options.

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