South Africa’s ground breaking mHealth platform, hearScreen, which has developed a smartphone app that detects hearing loss and links patients to health services, is now active in more than 25 countries across the world and plans to expand to a further 15 by the end of 2017.

hearScreen uses a smartphone and headphone, together with a custom-developed software application, to detect hearing loss.

The test incorporates real-time environmental monitoring during testing to ensure compliant noise levels, onsite data capturing and sharing capabilities and a referral database for healthcare providers.

The award-winning hearScreen app was developed at the University of Pretoria by Prof De Wet Swanepoel and Dr Herman Myburgh in 2013 and is currently being used in more than 25 countries globally by organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO), Partners in Health, USAID and the London School of Tropical Medicine.

In a recent interview with eHealthNews, hearScreen Lead-inventor and Co-founder, Prof Swanepoel said: “At this stage, we are rolling out the solution on request from interested parties that can contribute to the Beta trial. On this basis, we currently have trials running locally and in several countries around the world.”

The WHO estimates that globally there are 360 million people who suffer from disabling hearing loss; more than 80% of people who suffer from hearing loss don’t have access to early detection, and that’s where hearScreen comes in. The startup aims to bridge that gap by providing a cost-effective solution to detect hearing loss and to link them to their closest hearing healthcare providers.

“Our innovation is unique in its cost effectiveness, reducing costs by more than 80%, its standardised test sequences with automated interpretation that allows non-specialist personnel to conduct screening in resource constrained environments, and its real-time environmental monitoring,” CEO at hearScreen, Nic Klopper, told Disrupt Africa.

“The software turns the phone’s microphone into a calibrated sound level meter that monitors environmental noise during testing to ensure noise levels do not interfere with test results.”

Besides cutting costs, the innovation significantly improves and alters current models of school and community-based prevention for hearing loss by allowing non-specialist personnel to conduct screening in resource constrained environments,” continued Klopper.

hearScreen is currently in the process of raising its first seed round of investment from international angel investors  and expects to  complete this process within the next three months.

To date, more than 20,000 people globally have been screened using the solution, with Klopper anticipating the startup will be screening almost 170,000 each year by 2018 as it expands after raising funding.

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