Blog | Friday, August 9, 2013

First FDA-approved app


There has been a mini-media splash here in Tulsa over a locally based startup that's truly innovative.

Sway Medical has come up with an app called "Sway Balance," that uses nothing more than existing technology in current smartphones to test an individual's balance. It's the first FDA-approved app that's only software and doesn't require an attachment.

[Disclosure: I sit on a local non-profit board with the inventor/CEO of Sway Medical. I have no proprietary interest or relationship with the company, but simply find the story compelling.]

The state of the art equipment in diagnosing balance issues is a machine on the order of $30,000. The app is free but will require a $200 subscription. When I see a product that can reduce the price of a technology more than two orders of magnitude, I'm impressed.

The story about this interesting startup was covered in the both the Wall Street Journal and in the Tulsa World. One area of intense interest is the app's ability to determine if an athlete diagnosed with a concussion is at baseline with respect to their balance and gait. Using such an elegantly simple tool, sideline evaluators (team doctors and trainers) could gain valuable information not heretofore possible in the heat of battle.

This post by John H. Schumann, MD, FACP, originally appeared at GlassHospital. Dr. Schumann is a general internist. His blog, GlassHospital, seeks to bring transparency to medical practice and to improve the patient experience.