SME of the week: FibriCheck – empowering remote detection and monitoring of cardiac arrhythmias

As digital health providers, we are driven to harness technology’s full potential for better patient outcomes, bringing safe, efficient and effective care for all.

Cardiovascular disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in advanced and developing nations around the world. Every year there are 4.5 million cardiovascular-related deaths in Europe and the burden will only increase as we live longer. By 2035, these numbers are expected to rise by 40% due to aging and lifestyle factors (e.g. obesity, inactivity).

1 in 4 people over the age of 40 will develop a heart rhythm disorder like atrial fibrillation (AF) in their lifetime. As this risk increases with age, people as young as 40 have a lot to gain by regularly checking their heart rhythm. Especially those who experience heart palpitations or the occasional, inexplicable increases in heart rate. Undetected and untreated AF causes 20%-30% of all strokes, amounting to over 350,000 strokes annually in Europe. Making AF the single most important risk predictor for suffering a fatal or debilitating stroke.

Born out of a hospital Future Health department, the idea for FibriCheck was conceived when my co-founder’s father suffered a stroke due to undiagnosed AF. He is not alone, as studies estimate someone suffers an AF-related stroke every 15 seconds. Worst still, is that the vast majority of these strokes are entirely preventable with timely diagnosis and treatment. As determining the cause of a stroke is complex and costly, we were determined to overcome the shortcomings of hospital based detection with a software-only solution. 

And what better way to save lives than using mobile technology, since it’s already an indispensable part of daily life. That’s the simplicity behind FibriCheck. As the world’s first medically certified app capable of timely detection of heart rhythm disorders, including AF, FibriCheck lets users check their heart rhythm whenever and wherever, simply using an app on their smartphone or smartwatch. Appointment free, a quick check-up is as easy as placing a finger on your smartphone camera for 60 seconds or opening the app on your smartwatch, fitting into the busiest schedules. Diagnosed patients also monitor their heart rhythm with FibriCheck from the comfort and safety of home, saving caregiver coordination and travel time to in-clinic visits. By developing an app that safeguards quality of life, we take pride in knowing our work makes a difference. Not just for my co-founder’s father but anyone at risk or suffering from heart rhythm disorders.

Our mission is to reduce the number of AF related strokes through timely detection and support for condition management. 

Along with being a medically certified app (CE Class IIa, FDA, TGA approved)) we are currently available in over 40 countries worldwide. By using an individual’s own smartphone/ smartwatch we’ve improved access for over 450,000 people. Enabling regular and long-term heart rhythm monitoring, our users have performed over 4 million measurements. Leading to the detection of over 40,000 arrhythmias – all without the need for extra hardware or visits to a healthcare centre. FibriCheck’s extensive validation in clinical settings and large clinical trials in free-living conditions, demonstrates the state-of-the-art performance of our algorithms. Numerous clinical studies have been conducted, notably evidencing our proven equivalence with single lead ECG (electrocardiogram) devices. This growing validation repository has positioned us to play a pioneering role in the field of digital health over the last 6 years. Experience, which undoubtedly aided us in responding to  COVID-19, and catapulted our company’s impact on the global stage.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve made tremendous gains in the delivery of effective remote care continuity. Together with leading clinical partners, we launched a Europe-wide remote monitoring project: TeleCheck-AF. The success of this project represented a key turning point in the adoption of digital heart health, enabling over 40 clinical centres in 14 countries to deliver high-quality care despite pandemic restrictions. Replacing 95% of face to face visits, approximately 2,500 patients were monitored remotely through TeleCheck-AF, garnering recognition by medical societies, citation in multiple clinical studies and inclusion in clinical guidance. 

With COVID-19 still high on the agenda, we’ve seen many care organisations turn to digital solutions to optimize patient care and manage clinical interactions across the care pathway. In the UK several centres have implemented FibriCheck to remotely detect and monitor patients’ heart rate and rhythm, including London’s cardiac centre of excellence Barts Health NHS Trust, the renowned Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital in North West England, post-stroke rehabilitation programmes, and countless GP practices as part of vaccine outreach and palpitation triage.

While our diagnostic grade analytics (via the dashboard and summary reports) have always supported evidence informed consultation, deployment during the pandemic made us quickly realise that providers needed further streamlined insights. To address data burden and dashboard fatigue, we evolved our service delivery to provide physicians with a daily digest email informing only on cases for action, better supporting timely decision making. By marrying biometric data, with patient reported symptoms and activities, FibriCheck’s remote monitoring approach not only empowers patient engagement safely but also adds valuable context to clinical next steps. In this way, we venture to continuously improve towards eliminating the need for traditional face-to-face visits, thus minimizing the risks clinic acquired infections, now and in the future.

We’re keen to continue collaborating with health systems and provider organisations to spread the success of TeleCheck-AF, with the aim of creating sustained adoption of digital health and improved outcomes for people to have longer, healthier lives.

To realise our mission and ambitions, we sharpened our focus on the global wearables market by enabling broader integration of our heart rhythm app in consumer wearable devices. Building from our collaborations with Fitbit and Samsung smartwatches, we strive to make it as easy as possible for people to know if they have an irregular heart rhythm, ultimately preventing AF strokes from happening. 

As detection remains a challenge, especially in the early stages when symptoms are silent and presentations intermittent, we knew automation was needed to realise the aspiration of turning consumer devices into medical grade diagnostic devices. So in 2020 we launched a new smartwatch app capable of (semi-)continuous monitoring. Our app enables users to automatically track their heart rate and rhythm, even while they sleep, helping to detect more intermittent and silent episodes of AF. In looking to the future, we’re focused on broadening our availability on various devices, making access to heart rhythm monitoring as commonplace as checking the time.

We are humbled to be part of DHL.A Cohort 5 and can only be excited for what we can achieve together.  

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FibriCheck is currently one of 20 digital health companies on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by London’s three Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners, Imperial College Health Partners, and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.