A smartphone and certain apps don't replace the professional opinion of a doctor. They are however, proving to be valuable resources to help those with medical problems.
Case in point: the BiliCam app.
It's an experimental app developed by a team at the University of Washington that helps parents spot infant jaundice.
Infant jaundice is a condition where a baby's liver can't remove toxins from blood and is potentially fatal. The telltale sign of jaundice is yellowing of the baby's skin.
In theory, anyone who suspects their infant has jaundice can use the BiliCam app to find out without a doctor. All they need to do is print out a color key, set it on their infant's stomach and snap a photo using the smartphone's camera.
This also might be a great new way for medical teams to cut back on unnecessary costs.
The University of Washington team that developed the app envisions it as a more portable and accessible version of the screening tool used in hospitals and doctors' offices, a machine that costs thousands of dollars and may not be accessible to parents living far from their pediatrician.
In fact, not only will this app save money, initial tests show that the app is very effective.
In a very small test of 100 infant patients, BiliCam performed as well or better than the current standard screening tool. Further testing will help the researchers fine-tune the algorithm to work with a wide variety of complexions and lighting conditions.
The University of Washington hopes to fine-tune and release the app to medical professionals and get FDA approval within a year.