WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Democratising access to high quality healthcare is of critical importance globally, and increasingly all you need is a smartphone.
Exponential technologies are helping us achieve amazing new things, from helping wean the world off of fossil fuels, all the way through to creating revolutionary new DNA computers and molecular assembler technologies, all for starters. Another area where they’re helping blow away barriers is in the healthcare space where the combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine vision, and sensors, are helping us democratise access to healthcare in new ways and, essentially, turn your regular smartphone into an advanced tricorder device. Examples of this include being able to use your smartphone to diagnose the onset of pancreatic and skin cancer, ADHD, dementia, depression, eye conditions, heart disease, PTSD, and much more.
Our voices are a rich untapped source of information, something I highlighted recently after an American university used AI to listen to people’s voices and diagnose COVID-19, and one of the symptoms of heart failure, perhaps a little surprisingly, is a shortness of breath due to fluid accumulating in the lungs. Now a potentially life saving app that uses this information has been developed that listens to the user’s voice to see if they’re experiencing heart failure related lung congestion.
Created by Israeli startup Cordio Medical, the experimental app is called Cordio HearO. It was recently assessed in a study led by Prof. Offer Amir, who is the director of the Heart Institute at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Centre. He’s also a consultant for Cordio Medical.
The research involved 40 patients who were admitted to hospital with acute heart failure and lung congestion. Each person used the app to record five spoken sentences upon admission, and then again prior to release once they were better and non-congested. It was found that for each person, the app was highly accurate at differentiating between the congested and clear-lunged states.
It is now hoped that Cordio HearO could be prescribed to patients at risk of heart failure, who would begin by making a baseline recording while still healthy, in their own home.
Every day thereafter, they would make daily recordings that would be compared to that baseline. If the app determined that fluid was beginning to accumulate in their lungs, both they and their doctor would be notified. In this way, it’s possible that their condition could be addressed via changes in medication, before admission to a hospital was necessary.
Scientists at Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Nanyang Technological University have recently been thinking along the same lines, although they developed a stethoscope-like acoustic sensor that patients can plug into their smartphone to perform at-home lung congestion checks.
The findings of Amir’s team were recently presented on the European Society of Cardiology’s HFA Discoveries online platform.