Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

FibriCheck app checks heart rhythms during sleep

Steve Rogerson
April 7, 2020

Belgian firm FibriCheck has developed a smartwatch app that automatically monitors users’ heart rhythms during their sleep. The app, which can be integrated into any brand of smartwatch, detects episodes of both intermittent and silent atrial fibrillation.
It can handle cases where symptoms are only felt on and off or not at all, making diagnosis extremely difficult.
The app can detect the most common form of heart rhythm disorder, which is responsible for one in four strokes. As such, it represents a opportunity for smartwatch manufacturers to add value to their products in the form of potentially life-saving, built-in technology.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart rhythm disorder and is responsible for around a quarter of all strokes, the vast majority of which are preventable with timely diagnosis and treatment. The app has been developed to detect the heart rhythm disorder when a person is asleep, even in cases where there are no apparent symptoms.
Smartwatches with the app installed automatically measure heart rhythm every five minutes while the wearer sleeps. When they wake up, they have instant access to a detailed overview along with notifications they can forward to their doctor for follow-up or treatment.
Until now, atrial fibrillation could only be detected via expensive medical examinations in a clinical setting, which is why many people do not have themselves tested, despite the relatively high risk: a quarter of people over the age of 40 will develop the condition in their lifetime.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to know if they have a heart rhythm irregularity, to prevent AF strokes from happening,” said Lars Grieten, CEO of FibriCheck. “The FibriCheck heart rhythm app is a device-agnostic medical software application that can easily be integrated into any phone or wearable product that uses PPG (photo-plethysmography) sensors. For smartphone, smartwatch and consumer technology companies, this opens up new possibilities to expand product offerings and provide consumers with innovative ways to manage their health and health-related conditions, including better heart health.”
FibriCheck is a medical CE- and FDA-certified app that enables regular and long-term heart rhythm screening. It has been validated in clinical settings as well as large clinical trials in free-living conditions. Clinical studies have been conducted and comparisons made to ECG devices such as those of the Apple Watch and the AliveCor KardiaBand.
At present, the medical smartwach app is undergoing the final stages of user testing and will be available for smartwatch manufacturers worldwide in the second half of 2020. One major smartwatch manufacturer has already reached an agreement to integrate the FibriCheck technology in its products.
FibriCheck was recently selected as a high impact innovation by the 2020 NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme, another step in commercially expanding and scaling up its market reach. One of the company’s upcoming projects includes making fully continuous monitoring a reality. In this not-too-distant scenario, users will be able to have their heart rhythm monitored constantly and automatically, even during the day.
“This is the first step in turning consumer devices into fully automated medical diagnostic devices,” said Grieten. “Our next steps will be to add even more devices, and more frequent monitoring, to improve the user experience and make it easier to deliver better capabilities supporting heart health.”
Based in Belgium, FibriCheck is used by more than 200,000 people in the European Union and the UK, and is prescribed by more than 1500 physicians. Over two million reviewed measurements have been conducted to date, and more than 16,000 heart rhythm disorders have been detected.