India’s leading Digital Health startup MFine has launched a Heart Rate Monitoring (HR) Tool on its app which enables users to keep track of their heart rate without needing an additional device or any other app.
Thousands of users have already used the tool and currently more than 700 people use the tool to monitor their heart rate every day on MFine. Moving beyond telemedicine consultations and healthcare services, the company is working on various next-gen AI technologies which convert the mobile phone into rich diagnostics and vitals monitoring tool. MFine is planning to launch glucose monitoring and blood pressure measurement via its app by the end of 2022. MFine has built a proprietary algorithm that measures the heart rate using the smartphone camera. The Heart Rate is measured by the photoplethysmogram (PPG) signal from the user’s fingertip which is obtained by detecting changes in blood volume below the skin’s surface.
The PPG is an optically obtained plethysmogram that can be used to detect blood volume changes in the microvascular bed of tissue. Every time the heart beats, the amount of blood that reaches the capillaries in the fingers swells and then recedes. Because blood absorbs light, the MFine app is able to capture this ebb and flow using the flash of the phone’s camera.
The LED illuminates the skin and the smartphone camera measures the changes in light absorption. The signal is then broken down into Red, Blue and Green parts and using the difference in levels of light absorbed across these different wavelengths, heart rate is calculated by a machine learning algorithm. The variations in the light intensity are related to changes in the blood perfusion of the tissue, and based on these changes, heart-related information can be retrieved.
Currently, the Heart Rate measuring tool features 90 per cent medical-grade accuracy. The tool is in public beta for Android users and will soon be launched for iOS users. MFine is preparing for certifications of its algorithms, with data of hundreds of measurements to give medical-grade accuracy and reliability to the algorithm. Heart Rate is one of the four ‘vital signs’ that is routinely monitored by physicians to diagnose heart-related diseases such as different types of arrhythmias and rhythm disorders such as Atrial Fibrillation (AF). The irregular heartbeat caused during Atrial Fibrillation can cause blood clots, parts of which can break off and move to the brain, causing a stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have strokes and it is to be experiencing atrial fibrillation and not know it. Due to its erratic condition, AF is usually hard to detect and requires an ECG/EKG to be conducted physically at a hospital. However, mobile-based HR monitoring can provide at-home screening and alert users when at risk and seek timely medical intervention. In 2021, MFine launched a SPO2 monitoring tool on its app that has been used by over 600,000 users. The tool enables users to keep track of their oxygen saturation levels without needing an additional device. Apart from being used while recovering from Covid-19, SPO2 levels are tracked by users who have conditions that affect the oxygen saturation such as people with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, sleep apnea, heavy snoring and very young infants. India currently has 600 million smartphone users and on the back of falling prices of mobile devices and the growing adoption of 4G services, smartphones have a good penetration even in rural areas where other sophisticated infrastructure is absent.
Ajit Narayanan, CTO, MFine stated, “Globally, we are witnessing a massive transformation in the way people manage their health with an increased focus on preventive health and at-home screening for monitoring of chronic diseases. The combination of medical diagnostics with smartphones will greatly advance the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of critical health issues. By enabling vitals monitoring through smartphones, MFine is making assessments universal and free to access for millions of people in India who otherwise would have found this hard to do. Along with artificial intelligence, overall health data can play an incredible role in the estimation and early diagnosis of diseases. We are excited at MFine to lead this major transformation and contribute to the use of smartphones as a diagnostics tool.”
Using smartphones to monitor health vitals supplemented by telemedicine consultations can prove to be a game-changer for India. Smartphones and wearable technologies are increasingly being used as affordable, user-friendly and pervasive healthcare solutions that users can use to proactively manage their health conditions and avoid unnecessary hospitalization.
While wearables cater to a certain section of the society, smartphones are more ubiquitous in India. Smartphones as a health monitoring device will play a major role in the way users track their vital parameters and healthcare providers handle diagnostics. MFine is focused on delivering an AI-driven, on-demand healthcare service across India, and aims to be one of the largest virtual hospitals in the world with services across primary care, secondary care and chronic care management in collaboration with its trusted partners. Over 3 million users have used MFine services with the platform clocking over 300,000 monthly transactions that include doctor consultations, diagnostic tests, e-pharmacy and in-patient procedures.
MFine also provides its users with laboratory and diagnostic services and currently provides its users access to more than 700 diagnostic centres across 400 cities in India. Over 100,000 users use MFine for booking diagnostic tests every month. More than 6000 doctors, including some of India’s top doctors from over 700 reputed hospitals practice across 35 specialties on MFine and serve millions in more than 1000 towns across India.