Interpreting X-rays is a crucial skill for young doctors to learn. A new app, developed by a group of IT specialists and medical consultants in Belfast, has been created to help doctors identify challenges when interpreting X-rays. The app makes training more efficient by highlighting aspects of a doctor’s technique that require improvement. According to Dr Tom Lynch, one of the founders behind the training tool, the mobile app is cutting edge. “This is the medical and IT worlds coming together in Northern Ireland and producing something which is really unique” he said.
Feedback can be given immediately by the app, which becomes more specific to the person operating it with each use. A&E departments, as well as cancer departments, are likely to be the first places the app, Experior, is deployed.
Regarding the type of X-rays that are processed by the app, Dr Lynch noted that they have varying degrees of complexity. Some are more challenging to diagnose than others, although they are all “typical X-rays that a junior doctor and one who’s been qualified a long time would see in an emergency department.” The overall objective of the app is to aid junior doctors by showing them where they have can improve future decisions and diagnoses.
The remotely monitored mobile application can be used globally. “We already have doctors as far away as Australia and New Zealand using our app. Wherever a doctor is in the world, X-rays are the same” said Dr Lynch. “So doctors can be learning wherever they’re based and can study at home or at the hospital. Nearly 10,000 doctors are already using the NI developed app.”
IT expertise for the app’s development was provided by Kevin Donaghy. He remarked: “When Tom first approached me with the idea of improving the skills of doctors with X-rays, I thought ‘how do we build a solution that can be utilised by doctors and training organisations around the globe? How can we harness the best medical brains in the world to the benefit of all doctors and ultimately, all of their patients?’ That’s the bottom line – we wanted to develop a device that improves diagnosis and health care for everyone. With that in mind we used the ‘lean start-up model’ to prove that we can do this, and lead the way with the best medical and IT expertise in Northern Ireland to deliver a world-class solution. We really believe that Northern Ireland can lead the way in the development of innovative health solutions.”
As with any new technology introduced to an industry, there is likely to be an extended trial period before the app is fully embraced. A spokesperson for the Health Board has reportedly said that Northern Ireland has recently become more focussed on developing this kind of technology for the benefit of patients.
“There is international recognition for our implementation of X-ray image-sharing technology, and the development of the Electronic Care Record that covers all of Northern Ireland. These achievements allow us to reduce the number of tests we perform, and provide better, safer care. One really important area is using ‘smart’ online learning to help keep professionals up to date in the latest treatments. We are excited by this proposal, and keen to look at how tools like this can help us to support better care. We will be working with this development and others to test whether it helps our staff on the ground.”
Inventions like Experior provide exciting insights into the future of medicine, and offer the potential for a more efficient learning process for junior doctors. How else could modern mobile technology help the development of modern medicine?