A new mobile app developed by researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) at BC Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia can measure respiratory rate in children roughly six times faster than the standard manual method.
According to findings published this month in PLOS One, RRate can reliably measure respiratory rate in an average of 9.9 seconds, which is a significant improvement compared to the current method of measuring respiratory rate by counting a patient’s breaths for 60 seconds using a stop watch.
The simple yet innovative RRate app allows workers to measure respiratory rate by tapping the touchscreen every time the child inhales.“Mobile phones are changing how we administer health care, especially in rural settings and developing countries where access to medical devices is limited,” says Dr. Walter Karlen, who co-led the study with Dr. Heng Gan. “With this app, we can give health care workers with few resources faster and more accurate measurements, help them make better decisions, and give them more time with their patients.”
RRate allows workers to measure respiratory rate by tapping the touchscreen every time the child inhales. This simple but innovative piece of technology, the researchers are saying, is a big step towards better diagnoses for children with pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.
In addition, the application also provides an animation of a breathing baby, allowing for a direct comparison with the breathing patient. A free, non-study version of the app is available online.
Researchers collected data from 30 subjects who used the app while watching videos of children breathing at different rates. Using these findings, they developed an algorithm that enabled the app to produce accurate measurements in the least amount of time.
The next stage of this research is to further improve the diagnosis of pneumonia in low-resource settings by combining this app with the Phone Oximeter, which provides non-invasive measurements of blood oxygen levels using a light sensor and a mobile phone.