This article was written by Michael Bochoff, Marketing & Communications Assistant at Innovacorp.
Sparrow Acoustics is developing a system that allows any health professional to rapidly detect and diagnose cardiac diseases using their software as a medical device (SaaMD) and an electronic stethoscope. With this software, initial cardiac triage can be performed in under 10 minutes.
“Our vision is to make cardiac assessments easier, faster and less expensive,” said Nadia Ivanova, CEO of Sparrow Acoustics. “There are 121 million American adults with cardiovascular disease and 90 million are undiagnosed. We’re trying to change that. We want to make cardiology disease detection more accessible, and COVID-19 has shown us all the importance of widespread capabilities for rapid disease detection and diagnosis.”
The Halifax company’s innovation combines a decade of research in auscultation (using a stethoscope to listen to the sounds of your organs) with novel computer visualization, proprietary acoustic algorithms, and artificial intelligence (AI). Their software can determine the stage and probable diagnosis for the heart disease.
“I always dreamed of doing something that could help a lot of people,” said Nadia. “This technology actually started as a marine project and transitioned into a medical solution. We realized acoustics in the medical field were incredibly important and can help solve major problems.”
Having launched the company in early 2019, the Sparrow Acoustics team has been riding a wave of momentum, which includes winning last year’s Volta Cohort competition and taking part in Innovacorp’s Accelerate Program.
“I think Innovacorp’s program was the best accelerator we’ve ever participated in,” said Nadia. “Our experts in residence were from all over the world and so experienced in the medical field. While the program’s award funding was helpful, it was the expertise and advice that allowed us to get where we are today.”
While Sparrow Acoustics is preparing for FDA approval of a complete system with AI, they recently released a simplified training version to help people learn more about heart sound visualization. According to Nadia, when the complete system is ready, any doctor with basic training of stethoscope usage will be able to perform the test with it, receive the diagnosis or red flags and collect the data into a detailed report for sharing with other doctors.
“We are in the process of patenting the sound filter, which will be added to our system in the next couple of months,” said Nadia. “Our technology will work for both heart and lung sounds but ultimately, we want this system to assist doctors in heart sound analysis, so they can visualize the sound, apply different sound filters and look deeper into small details.”
Having collaborated with researchers and health care professionals from around the world, Nadia’s plan over the next year is to bring her co-founders, Yaroslav Shpak and Max Davydov, from the Ukraine and Belarus respectively here to Nova Scotia.
“We’re proud of how far we’ve come over the past 13 months despite being spread out around the globe,” said Nadia. “Despite the world’s current challenges, we’re optimistic about what we’ll achieve together in the next year and a half.”
June 18, 2020, Halifax, Nova Scotia