The healthcare industry stands to gain a lot from efforts in the technology industry. A lot of companies are building smarter applications which can make a big impact in the healthcare industry. One of those apps is currently able to detect whether or not one has pancreatic cancer by analyzing the whites of one’s eyes. This is a major breakthrough, assuming it is accurate enough to do the job correctly.
An App is not a Doctor or a Specialist
Although the concept of smart apps makes a lot of sense to most consumers, they will not be replacing your doctors or specialists anytime soon. In fact, it is believed most current medical apps are virtually useless as they result in false positives more often than not. Every now and then, however, an app comes along which can genuinely improve one’s health in one way or another. One app in particular focuses on analyzing the whites of one’s eyes to determine whether or not the person has pancreatic cancer.
Such an analysis is often made by doctors who examine a person’s eyes in person. This technique is nothing new by any means. However, relying on human analysis can certainly be a problem, as it takes the human eye far more time to do this than this app can. That is quite interesting to note, as most people would not give this part of the analysis a second thought.
Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers, thus addressing this problem is of the utmost importance. An early diagnosis of the disease can often help extend a person’s life, although being fully cured will always remain difficult. This new app developed by researchers at the University of Washington will help in identifying this threat a lot quicker than any human healthcare specialist would be capable of. It is something one can easily administer themselves.
This application is called BiliScreen and uses a smartphone’s built-in camera to detect levels of bilirubin in the whites of one’s eyes. The information is combined with computer vision algorithms to yield a reliable result. Considering how pancreatic cancer causes bilirubin levels to increase – and yellow one’s eyes – the application should be more than capable of making a correct assessment. By the time a human specialist notices one’s eyes have gotten more yellow, it is often already too late for the patient.
Using this app is both cheaper and easier compared to taking a blood test. A blood test takes days, if not weeks, to yield a result, whereas this app will give an outcome in mere seconds. It is due time we find an effective screening method for pancreatic cancer and this application may be the solution. So far, the app has been found to be around 90% accurate, although the study was limited to just 70 patients. The goal is to make the app slightly more accurate by blocking out light sources, and an update is expected to be released next month.
Although this app has a lot of potential, scientists continue to warn against using apps to gauge one’s health. This particular application is one of the few exceptions about which people should get excited. However, for every proper application with potential, there are at least 99 other applications which serve no real purpose whatsoever. It will be interesting to see if BilIScreen proves useful in this regard, as the preliminary results are pretty solid. However, there is always more work to do.