Australian digital health company partners with DoD on deployment readiness app

ResApp will partner with Lockheed Martin to join the US government’s "Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health" effort to develop audio-based machine learning algorithms using smartphone microphones.
By Lynne Minion
03:42 PM
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US military troops walking across airfield

Photo by Luke Sharrett, Getty Images

An Australian digital health company has signed a deal to join in the development of mobile applications that will help determine the mission-readiness of American military personnel.

Brisbane-based ResApp, which creates smartphone apps for the diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases, has announced a partnership with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to join the US Government’s Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health effort.

The WASH program was established to determine the health of service personnel prior to deployment without relying on expensive and cumbersome medical equipment such as electrocardiographs.

ResApp will contribute its expertise in developing audio-based machine learning algorithms to diagnose and measure the severity of respiratory conditions using smartphone microphones.

“We are delighted to be working with Lockheed Martin to develop audio signatures and algorithms as key components in products to support the mission readiness and health of United States military personnel,” Tony Keating, ResApp Health’s CEO and managing director, said.

An initiative of the US’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which was established in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik-1 – the world’s first satellite – to ensure the US avoids another “technological surprise”, the WASH program aims to extract physiological data obtained via mobile device sensors to help identify latent or developing health disorders.

Clinical studies are underway into ResApp’s diagnosis of pneumonia, asthma, bronchiolitis, croup, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and upper respiratory tract infections at leading hospitals in the US and Australia.

It is currently undergoing the double-blind stage of its Breathe Easy study at Joondalup Health Campus and Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, with 681 paediatric patients taking part in an evaluation of the efficacy of the app for the diagnosis of childhood acute respiratory disease using cough sounds.

Results are expected this month before the company moves forward with regulatory submissions for Europe and Australia.

The SMARTCOUGH-C-2 study is also underway at Massachusetts General Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and Texas Children’s Hospital in patients aged from 29 days to 12 years old who present with signs or symptoms of acute respiratory disease.

The US study follows last year’s SMARTCOUGH-C, which suffered a setback caused by “procedural anomalies”. SMARTCOUGH-C-2 has incorporated significant changes, including improved hospital staff training and an improved recording application that produces higher quality cough audio data.

The company hopes the results will form the basis of its de novo pre-market submission for ResAppDx in the United States.

In a week of gains, ResApp has also announced it has been granted an Australian patent for its cough-based “Method and Apparatus for Processing Patient Sounds,” protecting a key component of ResApp’s smartphone app for diagnosing acute respiratory disease until 2033. The digital health company has recently received a patent allowance in the US and has applications pending in Europe, Japan, China and South Korea.

Following news of ResApp’s deal with Lockheed Martin yesterday, ResApp shares rose 3.5c, or 19.4 percent, to 21.5c at 11:50 a.m. in morning trade on the ASX.