Cough monitoring smartphone app announces Spanish partnership


Hyfe, a cough monitoring smartphone app and digital diagnostics tool, has announced its technology will be incorporated into research in Spain in partnership with the University of Navarra, and involving over 800 participants. 

The inclusion of cough monitoring technology into community health research marks a significant step forward in the study of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and others. The study will introduce artificial intelligence technology and cough detection smartphone applications into epidemiological research for the first time. 

The trial is taking place in the city of Pamplona, Spain and the neighbouring municipalities of Cendea de Cizur and Zizur Mayor. Over 800 participants were selected through the Zizur health centre and the University of Navarra who have consented to take part in the study. Participants are monitoring their nighttime cough patterns using the Hyfe smartphone app. 

Hyfe’s partnership with the University of Navarra, Zizur’s Health Center and Montreal University Hospital Center (CHUM) is centred around identifying if the digital study of cough monitoring can predict the incidence of respiratory diseases and potentially, the appearance of future outbreaks. 

Hyfe is an artificial intelligence platform that detects and tracks coughs as they happen in real-time via a smartphone or wearable device. The company’s software platform encompasses machine learning algorithms to accurately detect cough and cough frequency in a precise fashion, before using acoustic analysis to help detect and diagnose respiratory illnesses. 

From this regular analysis, the incidence of respiratory or cough-associated diseases can be established such as COVID-19, influenza, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, among others. Specifically, for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, daily incidence figures for the local area (Cendea de Cizur, Zizur Mayor, and Pamplona) will also be obtained from local health authorities. Data will be aggregated and used to build local epidemic curves of respiratory diseases during the study period to see if they correlate with registered changes in cough frequency

According to WHO statistics, respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in the world, with figures revealing around 334 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. Hyfe aims to use its technology to help curb the further spread of COVID-19 and identify signs of long COVID, as 191 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed globally.

When it comes to AI and healthcare, a joint report published by the European Union’s EIT and Mckinsey states that artificial intelligence tools can enable healthcare systems to provide better care to more people. Furthermore, AI can help improve the experience of healthcare practitioners, enabling them to spend more time on indirect patient care, therefore reducing burnout.

Says Hyfe Co-Founder and CEO Joe Brew: 

“Covid-19 has taught us that the old way of doing epidemic surveillance and monitoring is simply not good enough. For health systems to effectively stay ahead of rapidly changing realities, both at the patient level as well as the population level, we need to enlist novel methods, novel sensors, and novel approaches.

“The trial in Navarra is the first ever to implement the concept of “acoustic syndromic surveillance” in real-world settings. I’m confident we’ll look back on this as a pivotal moment in global health history.”

Chris Price
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