Malaysia makes AI-enabled stethoscope

Innovative device: Dr Noor Hisham showing Stethee. With him are Crest CEO Jaffri Ibrahim (right) and Crest’s Internet of Things research and programme director Dr Khoh Soo Beng.

PETALING JAYA: Stethee, the world’s first intelligent stethoscope, made in Malaysia, has the potential to be used in remote and rural areas, said the Health Ministry.

The artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled stethoscope system was announced yesterday as a disruptive digital medical device made for the global market.

It is the first device in the world that evolved from the traditional stethoscope which has not been updated in the last 200 years, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

(Disruptive technology refers to any enhanced or completely new technology that disrupts and replaces an existing technology.)

Dr Noor Hisham said a group of medical practitioners and clinical researchers at the ministry’s Clinical Research Centre in Perak is currently involved in the evaluation of the Stethee Pro stethoscope.

“It will disrupt how we listen to the heart and lungs with detailed and accurate analysis.

“This cutting-edge and innovative stethoscope will also empower remote and rural healthcare through simple but precise surveillance and detection of heart and lung diseases,” he said on his official website yesterday.

The product was a strategic partnership between the ministry, Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Collaborative Research in Engineering, Science and Techno­logy (Crest) and M3DICINE, which was facilitated by the Telemedicine Development Group (TDG).

TDG is co-chaired by Dr Noor Hisham and Malaysian Communica­tions and Multimedia Commission chairman Tan Sri Dr Halim Shafie.

The Stethee system includes core products – the Stethee Pro, Stethee Vet and Stethee Edu.

The Stethee Pro has received clearance from the United States Food and Drug Administration for use by medical and healthcare professionals, said Dr Noor Hisham.

It is designed to work as easily as a traditional stethoscope, allowing users to listen to heart and lung sounds with sophisticated amplification and filtering technology, he said.

He said the recordings can then be transmitted to a smart device such as a smartphone or a tablet via Bluetooth technology, and analysed to build a personal biometric signature for each patient, and detect the presence of heart or lung diseases.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (Aida), the technology platform behind the Stethee AI engine, also automatically tags geo-location and aggregate environmental data for analysis by healthcare professionals.

Aida analyses this data (which is encrypted and anonymised) and is able to provide doctors, vets and healthcare professionals with quantitative clinically actionable data.