If there is anything that the pandemic years of 2020-21 has taught us, it’s that we are woefully unprepared for public health crises.
Granted, we seem to do well on an individual level when it comes to diagnosing and treating health conditions. However, on a large scale, we may as well be back in the stone age.
For COVID-19 specifically and other respiratory ailments in general, we are now finding the incredible value of having access to databases containing detailed information about coughs. This life-saving data allows us to more deeply analyze respiratory health conditions and compare coughs against normal and abnormal samples.
Coswara: A Cough Database
Coswara is a preliminary effort toward creating a database of respiratory data related to COVID-19. This database was created as an answer to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test, which has served as the gold standard diagnostic tool in the fight against the pandemic. Unfortunately, the RT-PCR test comes with its own set of challenges in implementation on a large scale:
- RT-PCR testing is expensive;
- The test uses valuable time and resources;
- The test tends to be uncomfortable for patients.
Because of these hurdles, RT-PCR testing is likely not the best way to test for and take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for our ever-expanding population.
In contrast, Coswara is a crowdsourced, open-access, sophisticated online database of cough sounds. This database can be easily used by anyone, anywhere in the world. By leveraging and improving upon this type of technology, we will be able to overcome the issues created by COVID-19. We will soon be able to quickly analyze cough sounds and accurately diagnose respiratory conditions remotely. Enabling us to more effectively triage patients.
HYFE: Anther Method of Analyzing Cough Sounds at Home
Building upon phenomenal early efforts at detecting cough sounds such as Coswara, the Hyfe app is making waves in the world of cough analysis.
The application is able to effectively capture and record cough data in real time through a smartphone. This data can then be analyzed by expert researchers and physicians. These professionals can then, in turn, make recommendations about treatment, quarantining, and other options as appropriate.
The Hyfe app, which is the ultimate tool for self monitoring and tracking coughs, provides a way to effectively gather clinical data, diagnose conditions, and make recommendations to patients all in a cost-effective manner.
A Healthier, More Empowered World
On an even larger scale than just COVID-19 or respiratory illness, developments such as Coswara and the Hyfe app should logically lead us to a healthier, more empowered world overall.
Soon, this technology will improve and expand to capture data pertaining to other types of illness. This will benefit patients as they will no longer have to experience the anxiety of frequent in-person doctor visits. Rather, they will be able to obtain a preliminary diagnosis through a trusted mobile app. This data will then help with decisions of what the next best step is in managing their symptoms. This puts the power back in the hands of patients, giving them autonomy over their health decisions.
The COVID-19 pandemic caught us off-guard. Unfortunately, it’s likely that we will eventually encounter new diseases which will plague our world again in the future. Taking preventative public health steps such as creating effective diagnostic databases is one of the best things we can do to prepare for this inevitability.