Data released from medical mass screening by smartphones

Data from the world’s first real-life medical mass screening performed by smartphone have been released, potentially leading to a paradigm shift in healthcare according to experts.

FibriCheck is currently the world’s only medically certified app that can be used to detect atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm disorders. The data released includes more than 120,000 remote measurements that have been performed on approximately 12,500 participants using their smartphones.

The app works by utilising the built-in sensors — photoplethysmorgraphic (PPG) — commonly found in smartphones and smartwatches that measure the rate and rhythm of the user’s/wearer’s heartbeat. Then, through medically approved algorithms together with an artificially intelligent deep neural network, the app detects the presence of atrial fibrillation and other potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. This information can be used to refer the patient to a doctor for further follow up if required.

The mass screening campaign was performed in Belgium, where participants could download and unlock the app by scanning a QR code that had been published in a Belgian newspaper. Each participant measured their heartbeats twice a day for a week. Feedback on the results were provided instantly with users being offered the option to automatically upload the data to their doctor for further analysis and diagnosis.

Of those who participated in the mass screening, 150 were ultimately diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 500 were found to have other significant heart rhythm disorders that needed further medical attention.

According to the company, these results are in line with previous medical research conducted amongst the general population, with an average age of 50 and approx. 1.3% registering measurements that were highly suggestive for atrial fibrillation. This figure increased to 3% for participants aged 60 and over and up to 12% for those over 80.

Therefore, FibriCheck, provided by Belgian company Qompium, offers a way of mass screening that is more cost-effective than traditional approaches with similar results — signalling the potential for a paradigm shift in healthcare.


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