Research: Smartphone apps help in monitoring and reporting COVID-19

The widespread use of varied smartphone apps launched through the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably contact-tracing functions, could be seen as a constructive growth.Nevertheless, extra analysis have to be executed to find out how these applied sciences could be refined for future use circumstances.

This was the important thing conclusion of a overview paper printed in Nature Biotechnology, whose authors stated that, regardless of affected person privateness and information safety issues, the apps have been helpful to contact tracing, particular person screening and a basic understanding of outbreak epidemiology.

“Whereas there have been successes and failures in every class, outbreak epidemiology and particular person screening have been considerably enhanced by the attain of smartphone apps and accent wearables,” the report famous.

The principle benefits of smartphone-based app information embrace close to real-time outcomes, and the power to extrapolate information from massive inhabitants teams. Functions that had been developed to trace influenza, earlier to the pandemic, have been in a position to pivot to monitoring COVID-19.

The usage of apps to diagnose potential COVID-19 signs is also improved sooner or later as smartphone cameras turn into extra subtle. A perfect diagnostic app ought to combine options discovered throughout a large number of apps at present available on the market. 

“To be accessible to an underrepresented and underserved inhabitants, it ought to be capable of combine the data from any sensor, together with that from much less subtle cellular units with restricted options,” the report stated.

Contact tracing, essentially the most generally used COVID-19-related smartphone app perform, was cited by the paper as having essentially the most severe information privateness points. Authors of the report imagine that future contract-tracing apps ought to think about not solely proximity, however native biometric, pathogen and environmental information to enhance efficacy.

“The perfect contact-tracing app would work in actual time, protect information privateness, adjust to native rules, result in actionable and measurable outcomes, be on native units to keep away from bandwidth points and, for public well being functions, not require opting in,” the report really useful.


With greater than six billion smartphones in use worldwide, the power of cellular apps to assist in data gathering and dissemination will likely be vital going ahead. Smartphones are already used to collect geolocation information and different varieties of information accrued by customers.

Because the paper famous, nonetheless, the important thing points to be resolved give attention to information safety and privateness points, in addition to on the challenges of digital well being illiteracy and structural inequities.

There are additionally indicators that smartphone apps could possibly be geared up with extra superior diagnostic performance. A smartphone-based COVID-19-detection check from Australia confirmed a excessive diploma of accuracy, appropriately discovering COVID-19 in 92% of contaminated contributors of a scientific trial.

As well as, researchers discovered {that a} loop-mediated isothermal amplification-based methodology mixed with smartphone detection was in a position to check for COVID-19.


The usage of cellular apps may have extra preventive makes use of for at-risk populations throughout pandemics or seasonal well being occasions.

In August 2021, U.Okay. home-care supplier Cera launched a flu-tracking and remedy app, which makes use of synthetic intelligence and machine studying to help earlier prognosis and sooner remedy of flu in older inhabitants teams.

“Continued use of apps inside the digital infrastructure guarantees to supply an essential instrument for rigorous investigation of outcomes each within the ongoing outbreak and in future epidemics,” the Nature Biotechnology report famous.

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