Your child has a cough. Is it serious, or will it just get better on its own? Is it a simple cough from a cold, or is it asthma or pneumonia or some other condition that needs professional medical attention? If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been through this quandary more than once. Now there is a smartphone app under development that may hold the answers.

ResApp Health is an Australian company that is developing a smartphone app, ResApp, that is designed to identify different types of coughs. The program captures the sounds of a cough without it being muffled by the muscle and bones, as is the case when a healthcare professional listens to a patient’s lungs with a stethoscope. Instead, higher frequency sounds can be picked up as they come out the patient’s airways. The company has developed a large database of sounds, and has used machine learning to identify the signatures of normal breathing and various coughing sounds. Clinical research with pediatric patients has shown the system is able to diagnose bronchitis, croup, and upper respiratory tract infections with greater than 96% accuracy. It also provides an accurate differential diagnosis in 89% to 99% of patients. Prior studies showed the ability to identify childhood pneumonia at rates higher than 95%.

The company plans to work with the FDA to make the system available in the U.S. as a Class II medical device. If the system is ultimately approved, this could advance the progress of tele-health tools in this country, and give parents a faster path to peace of mind when their child is sick.