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New software diagnoses aid

A unique online software package is being developed to speed up general practitioners’ ability to diagnose ear and hearing conditions. The online ‘decision support system’, which is expected to be available for medicos in 12 months, is an Australian first in the field of diagnosis of ear and hearing conditions. The package will be a collection of ear and hearing diagnoses and associated symptoms collated from reports published by medical experts in international scientific and medical articles, reports and journals. The software will work by using statistics from a database of all the medical information and data collated, to present a list of potential symptoms for a general practitioner, with the program then suggesting the most likely diagnosis. The program is the brainchild of Paradigm Diagnostics, a Perth-based technology company specialising in the development of integrated medical computing solutions. The technology has previously been applied in the area of eye complaints, bio-hazardous materials and sexually transmitted diseases, with these applications now used by doctors and other health care professionals. For the development of the ‘ear and hearing’ module, Paradigm has partnered with the Lions Ear and Hearing institute, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ear research and surgery leader to take advantage of major synergies between the two. Lions Ear and Hearing Institute senior scientist Dr Rob Eikelboom, who has long been aware of Paradigm’s work, headed the research that led to the agreement between the two organisations. “The institute will be responsible for developing the content of the program and we have engaged someone to begin collecting and collating all the medical research,” Dr Eikelboom said. LEHI director Professor Marcus Atlas said the institute was pleased to have signed an agreement with Paradigm and hoped to finalise a licensing agreement soon to advance the package. “The software will enable a general practitioner to more easily diagnose an ear and hearing condition – particularly if they are unsure of a patient’s symptom, or have difficulty contacting a skilled ear specialist,” Professor Atlus said. “We look forward to finalising the software because it will be an extremely valuable tool, particularly for general practitioners and health workers located anywhere, as well as trainee ear and hearing specialists.” Professor Stuart Bunt, head of Paradigm Diagnostics, has been developing the diagnosis software technology at the University of Western Australia for the past 10 years. Professor Bunt agreed that medical practitioners would benefit from the diagnosis software. “It really will be an innovative product that will speed up the diagnosis process for practitioners and we look forward to advancing this revolutionary diagnosis technology with the Lions Ear and Hearing Institute,” Professor Bunt said. Almost 2.5 million people in Australia are affected by hearing loss, with tens of thousands of children and adults currently suffering from ear disease.

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