App uses AI to cut endometriosis diagnosis delays


Wednesday, 03 April, 2024

App uses AI to cut endometriosis diagnosis delays

Endometriosis Australia has partnered with CHARLI to launch a period and reproductive health tracking app for diagnosis and management of conditions such as endometriosis.

Associate Professor Anusch Yazdani, Medical Director at Endometriosis Australia and a co-founder, said the CHARLI app is the solution for the inequities in healthcare access and diagnostic support, especially affecting rural and remote populations, reducing the alarming delay from onset of the first symptoms and diagnosis — six years.

“We know there are many Australians living with the symptoms of endometriosis undiagnosed for years, especially in rural and remote areas. CHARLI aims to address this by identifying abnormal patterns and prompting women to discuss with their doctor,” Yazdani said.

Developed by Australian medical and allied health professionals with insights from consumers, the app uses secure AI technology to help Australians track and monitor menstruation, fertility, sexual health, pregnancy and peri/menopause, and identify pain or possible conditions like endometriosis. The app is available for free download for three months via the Apple Store and Google Play.

Samantha Costa, Clinical Specialist Nurse and Midwife and co-creator behind the technology, said, “CHARLI’s your health companion in your pocket and is here to address the shame, silence and stigma that still exists surrounding female health-related symptoms. We’re grateful to partner with Endometriosis Australia to support the 1 in 7 Australians living with the condition and provide a quicker diagnosis and easier support.”

A research study by Costa, Yazdani and other researchers at Eve Health Australia in Brisbane was the inspiration and driving force behind the development of the app. Published in 2019, the study found that up to 70% of women initiating fertility treatment use mobile apps for cycle tracking, and while fertility tracking apps ranked fourth in health downloads for adults and second for adolescents, there was limited published information on app functionality and usage. The researchers studied over 300 apps and found that fewer than half accurately predicted ovulation dates (42.7%), fewer than 1 in 5 accurately predicted confinement dates (17.1%) and integration with other health applications was possible for only 31.4% of the apps.

CHARLI.app identifies abnormal patterns via self-logged data as well as information sources from wearables, such as Apple Watch and FitBit. Based on data, the app promotes lifestyle change and alerts users to talk with their doctor about important reproductive conditions including endometriosis, through user-data-driven AI algorithms.

One of the elements of the app — CHARLI.clinic (virtual clinic) — links users with real-world designated healthcare professionals, including GPs, specialists and allied healthcare practitioners such as counsellors, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. The virtual clinic also provides access to group support, including classes and webinars.

CHARLI.research, the final component of the app, allows users who wish to participate to enrol in third-party approved research projects. Monica Forlano, Chair of Endometriosis Australia said, “To provide better treatment options, we need to unlock critical new information about endometriosis, and researchers simply can’t do it without help and collaboration of those living with the condition.”

Image credit: iStock.com/PeopleImages

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