St. John's-based Sparrow Bioacoustics has launched Version 3 of its stethoscope app, now integrating AI analysis, with the company releasing it first in Ukraine.

The move builds on a pilot program that has involved Ukrainian cardiology clinics piloting an earlier version of Stethophone, as the software is called, since last year. In a press release, Sparrow said the updated version will help doctors more easily identify cardiac symptoms and offer faster recommendations to patients.

“We are deeply privileged to have a chance to apply our work to first help the millions of people displaced by war in Ukraine who are symptomatic or concerned about their heart health,” said CEO Mark Attila Opauzsky.

Stethophone uses a combination of a device’s microphone and software processing to amplify relevant audio. It promises to offer patients a way to self-monitor and document their symptoms in detail, for later analysis by a physician. The new AI features are intended to identify common rhythmic and structural cardiac anomalies.

While the AI-enabled version of Stethophone  is so far only available in Ukraine, and only to iPhone users, attendees at this year’s Collision Conference in Toronto did have access to a live demo.

The technology is possible thanks to the sophisticated microphones found in modern iPhones and most mid- to high-end Android devices. And because many manufacturers source parts from the same suppliers, Opauzsky has said previously there is significant standardization across brands. If the quality of a recording is poor, Stethophone will prompt the user to collect more audio, and if the quality of the microphone is completely untenable, the system will warn its user.

“We’ve benchmarked it against the gold standard digital stethoscopes and similar tools,” he said. “And in every case, we’ve come out either as good or in some cases better, in terms of what the doctor can actually hear when they hold the phone to someone’s chest.”

A version of Stethophone without the AI component was also recently approved by U.S. regulators as a Class II medical device, similar to products like blood pressure cuffs.