Sonai is on a mission to re-invent heart diagnosis
Finnish health tech startup Sonai Health Oy is looking to bring special care diagnostics into primary care in a big way. Sonai is working on a device that provides a more versatile alternative for your basic stethoscope used by general practitioners around the world. The company joined the Health Incubator Helsinki program in spring 2022.
The solution is based on patented sensor innovation, machine learning and user-friendly interface, explains CEO Jyri Seppä.
“Our prototype is now ready and we’re aiming for a 2024 commercial launch,” he says in August 2022.
Espoo-based Sonai Health was founded in July 2021, but the roots of the original idea reach farther: the father of the idea, physician Arto Kotimaa, had been wondering for years, why there aren’t better tools for listening to a patient’s heart. On his wish-list: a device that would save all the collected data and make AI comparisons from that info, allowing the treating physician to see a considerably bigger picture.
An advanced stethoscope takes shape
Arto Kotimaa linked up with professor Heikki Seppä, a sensor expert from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, who came up with the core technical innovation for the device. Arto Kotimaa’s brother Antti Kotimaa, a researcher, also joined the team. Jyri Seppä, having launched a startup earlier and possessing most business acumen of the group, became the CEO.
“We have four founders with expertise from many areas. My role as CEO is really to focus on administration, funding and moving the project onwards,” Seppä explains.
With the team working hard, the prototype has been taking shape quite nicely. “The device is placed on the patient’s chest and it is packed with sensors that will give a wealth of data within a minute or so.”
CEO Jyri Seppä
Using that data
The device deploys algorithms that make good use of that data very effectively, allowing the doctors to make the right calls regarding treatment.
“Our device uses a cloud solution that enables remote diagnosis, follow-up analyses and integrations to various healthcare systems,” adds Seppä.
Seppä notes that as heart-related disease is still the number one killer globally, one should really prioritize this field and make sure that doctors have the best possible tools at hand.
“There are digital stethoscopes on the market already, but we couldn’t find a product out there that is able to do what our device does.”
Finished commercial product coming in 2023
In September 2022, the prototype of the device will start pre-clinical tests, with clinical patient trials to follow at the end of the year.
“In 2023, we want to take all the feedback from these tests and create the finished commercial product,” says Seppä, adding that the company is presently looking for a data analyst to help fine-tune the product.
Seppä feels that Sonai is doing important work that has the potential to save lives and reduce healthcare costs a great deal.
“This is a meaningful pursuit, and you really feel you’re doing something of value. Equally important is trying to accomplish something that nobody has done before.”
Participating in the Health Incubator Helsinki this year has been a worthwhile learning experience for the company.
“Especially things like business planning and funding are well covered in the program and we’ve received some great advice.”
“All the while, we’ve been able to network and establish contacts all over.”
Startup Fast Facts:
Name: Sonai Health Oy
Product: New, more diverse device for heart diagnosis
Team size: 4
Target customer/market: General practitioners, healthcare industry
Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photo: Sonai Health Oy
Cover photo: Unsplash