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Taiwan expert develops smartphone app to identify medications

2019/05/07 22:01:00

Photo courtesy of National Yang-Ming University

Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Because of concern over patients taking the wrong medications due to similarities in the appearance of some of them, National Yang-Ming University associate professor in family medicine Chen Yu-chun (陳育群) has developed a smartphone app to help users identify drugs and medications.

The app, named AIGIA Pharmacist, can identify 400 commonly used drugs and medications in Taiwan with the assistance of a drug- photographing device called MedBox, Chen said at a press conference in Taipei Tuesday.

Around 18,000 drugs and medications are currently covered by the country's National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Chen said, many of which are in the form of pills that are of similar appearance and size, which can mislead patients into taking the wrong medications.

During home visits, Chen, who is also a physician at the Department of Family Medicine of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, recalled that he once found an elderly bed-ridden patient who often suffered from stomach gas, despite having been given medication for his ailment.

It took some time before he discovered that the patient had mistaken the round white pills prescribed for abdominal distention with those for his prostate problem, Chen said.

To help patients being cared for at home to distinguish their various medications, Chen spent three years developing the medication identification app, and acquired a patent for the invention last year.

According to Chen, data on 400 NHI drugs and medications, including more than 8,000 images, have been stored in the cloud data bank for the app, which has proven during testing at Taipei Veterans General Hospital to be able to identify 90 percent of home-care medications in Taiwan with an accuracy rate of 95 percent.

In order to help foreign domestic caregivers, the app also features a multilingual environment that can be used in English, Indonesian, Vietnamese or Malay, Chen said.

However, the app is currently still in the testing phase and has not yet been brought to the market, according to Chen.

(By Hsu Chi-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)
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