Stellenbosch based medical device organisation, Diacoustic, have identified themselves as the “heart sound experts” due to their smart cardiac murmur screening software application, Sensi.

In a recent interview with eHealthNews, Director of Diacoustic, Thys Cronje, discussed the development of Sensi and how it is being used by often inexperienced physicians, nurses or physical examiners across the local and international healthcare arena to distinguish between hard to hear cardiac murmurs when auscultating.

“Sensi was developed for users who don’t have the skills to listen to a patient’s heart rate – from a nurse to a chiropractor or even personnel involved in sport screenings – to determine if the murmur is due to a structural cardiac defect or an innocent murmur. It also indicates where the murmur is located within the heart beat’s systolic and diastolic segments,” explained Cronje.

Thys Cronje - EHN

Thys Cronje

Sensi connects with thelatest, off-the-shelf electronic stethoscopes, such as Littmann 3200 and ThinkLabs One, and interfaces via Bluetooth or USB cable to a computer or iPhone. “The whole procedure takes less than five minutes: the system records 15 seconds of heart sounds that are then uploaded to the cloud for analysis. An answer is then sent back to signal if there is a problem. Sensi provides primary care clinicians the ability to diagnose structural cardiac defects with the confidence of a cardiologist,” continued Cronje.

Cronje explained that through Sensi’s use of cloud technology, users are able to store multiple heart sound recordings to monitor patients overtime, as well as keep a record of their auscultation findings that can be converted to PDF records and uploaded to Electronic Health Records (EHR).

Sensi is a locally developed product that was researched at Stellenbosch University, “during which time 2000 cardiac sounds were recorded onto our database to create the algorithm,” said Cronje. Sensi has since been piloted at Tygerberg and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

Sensi has received FDA clearance and has officially been on the market for a year across five continents, with an especially high uptake in the US. “An American NGO has used Sensi to monitor 20,000 children for heart defects,” said Cronje.

In comparison, the uptake has been relatively small in South Africa, with the biggest use being the screening of 2000 students at Stellenbosch University for congenital heart defects.

“In South Africa the main focus is on infectious disease, however, heart disease should also be a major cause for concern. In the Western Cape alone rheumatic heart disease is extremely high, with a morality rate of 41%,” said Cronje.

Cronje went on to explain that Sensi is a good solution for South Africa’s rural environment that doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to run a traditional cardiac monitoring system and relies heavily on primary care services. “In the next two months our system will also be available for Android users. It’s our goal to make Sensi more mobile friendly to target users that have don’t have access to computers,” said Cronje.

Sensi is available on a subscription-based model for R300 to R500 a month, which according to Cronje, averages around R5 to R10 per patient. “Everyone has a cardiac murmur at some stage in their life so it’s important to identify how serious it is. Our system enables users to reduce costs by up to 60% when detecting cardiac murmurs,” concluded Cronje.

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