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Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food

Snap-n-Eat nutrition app calculates nutritional info from a picture of food | Healthcare and Technology news |

A group of researchers with the nonprofit SRI Internationalhave developed a nutrition app that can detect the caloric and nutritional content of food from a picture that you snap with your smartphone.

Obesity is a major problem in the United States – we’ve all seen the powerpoint slides showing CDC maps of obesity prevalence spreading over the past fifty years. Apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt let you track the food you eat in a very detailed way. We also recently reviewed Rise, a platform that lets you snap pictures of your meals and get feedback from certified nutritionists.

Researchers with the nonprofit SRI international recently published a paper describing Snap’n’Eat, an app that lets you snap a picture of your meal and calculates nutritional information like caloric content automatically for you.

Basically, the app figures out which segments of the picture contain food and then tries to figure out what type of food is in each segment. Based on that determination, it estimates the caloric content and other nutritional information.

They found that when dealing with a limited set of samples (fifteen in their tests), they were able to achieve 85% accuracy. But when expanding to a larger sample set, the app did not work as well.

They do note that it may be possible to improve the system by having users “train” the app early on; if the app can be taught about the users typical diet, then its accuracy could be improved.

In some ways, the ability to automatically detect nutritional information from a picture is the “holy grail” of diet apps. It would make diet tracking incredibly easy. However, this study highlights the current challenges and limitations of available technology. Further work is certainly needed but it’s a goal worth working towards given the scope of the problem it seeks to address.

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Use smartphone applications to diagnose and monitor patients

Use smartphone applications to diagnose and monitor patients | Healthcare and Technology news |

In this Rock Center segment Dr. Eric Topol demonstrates how smartphone applications are being used as medical diagnostic devices such as echo cardiograms (ECG), ultrasound and glucose diagnostic devices.  Dr. Topol reported that these application devices do not get in the way of doctor-patient interaction and relationship.  It can be asserted that since these diagnostic devices, are in fact smartphone applications, the patient’s comfort with these devices is greater than their comfort with a traditional diagnostic ECG, ultrasound, etc. device.  Dr. Topol also states that he is at times prescribing smartphone applications in place of medications and extensive diagnostic testing.

At HIMSS this year I came across another innovative and cool technology smartphone application.  MedSnap is a new, cool and great solution that hits on all the proper buttons for Healthcare IT!  MedSnap is patient centric.  It fills a need by documenting patients’ current medications.  It’s smart as it identifies something like 3000 medications.  It saves time.  It is accurate.  It has broad application ranging from acute care providers, to ambulatory providers, to home healthcare organizations.  MedSnap is a perfect example of why I love coming to HIMSS and subjecting my feet to hours upon hours of walking, stopping, standing, talking, etc.  See my HIMSS-13 Cool Stuff blog.

There is tremendous strategic partnership opportunity among Healthcare IT vendors for the integration of smartphone applications with EMR/EHR solutions.  Technology is the future of medicine and we continue to witness this in greater complexity and volume.  Healthcare IT is sick… which means cool!

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