Smartphone app may help measure levels of stress hormone

At the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society annual meeting in Chicago, a research team from Utah presented a paper on the use of smartphone technology to self-administer a salivary cortisol test. Using disposable immunoassay strips, the technology is able to assess hormone levels, identifying adrenal insufficiency and hypercortisolism, and monitoring physiologic variations in cortisol concentration.

According to The Star, this will make such tests more accessible and timely. A commercial lab in the U.S. may charge up to $50 to run a quantitative salivary cortisol test and take up to a week to provide the results, while the smartphone test will cost under $5 and give results in less than about 10 minutes. This mobile app is essentially a stress test, as measured by hormone levels. The device was intended to be inexpensive to manufacture and easy to use.

This is the most recent in a range of medical applications using technology. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that mobile apps can help people manage their own health and wellness, promote healthy living, and gain access to useful information when and where they need it. As needed, the FDA will have to regulate mobile apps if they are medical devices, ensuring that they are safe and effective for their intended use.

Doctors also use medical apps to enhance their practice. Medical Economics highlights the top apps rated by doctors. These include Medscape, Doximity, and Epocrates. From networking to gathering research, these apps are helping doctors get the information and tools they need to provide the best care.