Finally in the nursing news this week, let’s take a look at a pretty cool smart phone app that could help parents of newborns work with their nurses and pediatricians to assess their babies for neonatal jaundice. Programmers at the University of Washington worked together with doctors to create the Bilicam which comes up with an approximate bilirubin level based on a photograph of the baby’s skin color taken with a smartphone’s camera.

Hyperbilirubinemia Faced by Most Newborns

F49A1ACB-663A-4F26-9FAF-9E5030C205ABHyperbilirubinemia occurs in most, if not all neonates. It happens, as you know due to the breakdown of the shorter lived neonatal red blood cells and the immaturity of the newborn’s liver and GI tract. As the newborn ages, eventually the level of bilirubin, a by product of the breakdown of red blood cells, usually decreases naturally.

The question for many parents who have taken their new baby home is whether they need to take their baby back in for a blood test to follow up on it and get treatment, usually photo-therapy with ultraviolet light. The camera app works by using a color calibration card that is placed in the camera’s frame when the photo is taken. This gives the camera and the app software a known color value to gauge the skin against.

App Testing Continues With 1000 Newborns

Then the app examines the photograph taken and compares the values with a cloud-based algorithm to come up with an approximate bilirubin level. The app is still in the research phase and the team at the University of Washington are planning on testing the app on 1000 newborns in coming months to further calibrate the system for different lighting and skin tones.

I love to see this type of assessment tool coming to mobile devices because it means that we will all have full diagnostic suites soon at our fingertips wherever we encounter our patients. Stay tuned for more on this and other mobile app breakthroughs here at the Nursing Show and at my other medical technology short video podcast, Health Tech Weekly at I’ll see you there!

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Understanding ADHD Patients and Nursing Show Episode 321.



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