Eko Smartphone Stethoscope Is The Wave Of The Future

 Eko Core Stethoscope for SmartphonesEko Core Stethoscope for Smartphones

 

Eko Core is the new electronic stethoscope attachment that lets physicians and other medical personnel see, record and share heart sounds via a smartphone. Produced by Silicon Valley medical device startup Eko Devices, the Berkeley, California-based company recently received FDA clearance for its smartphone-enabled stethoscope as well as the companion smartphone app needed in conjunction with it. It's being billed as the only stethoscope on the market to wirelessly stream heart sounds to a HIPAA-compliant smartphone app. It is also the first to integrate heart sounds directly into a patient's electronic health records or EHR.

Medical Breakthroughs


Why is this important and what are the practical applications? Stethoscopes are a fundamental component to physical exams. Clinicians feel that after hearing and viewing a patient's heart-sound waveform (phonocardiogram) and streaming the information directly to that patient's EHR it will hopefully allow for better identification and documentation of abnormalities and cardiac monitoring in the future. This stored data will be especially useful for second opinions between primary care physicians and cardiologists once it's shared. All in all, their hopes are that use of the Eko Core stethoscope and accompanying app will allow doctors to better address the "silent killer," a disease which currently affects one in four people worldwide.

Smartphones


The team behind Eko Core is calling their innovative invention "a next-generation" stethoscope. They were recently quoted as saying, "We've started by pairing the oldest and the newest tools in the medical toolkit – the stethoscope and the smartphone." The Bluetooth-enabled hardware operates in digital and analog modes and features sound amplification to capture hard-to-hear cardiac murmurs and lung sounds that might otherwise be missed. The software allows users to record and playback those sounds and then sync the sound reports with the patients' EHRs for storage, review and annotation. The Eko App works with iPhone 4S and above and iPad 3rd generation and above. An Android version is on its way.

 

 

Mobile Apps

The young entrepreneurial group is also in the process of developing a decision report algorithm they're calling a "Shazam" (think media identification) for heartbeats to eventually be included with the mobile app. It's being developed for the purpose of interpreting the recorded data and offering its own analysis of it as it's reported. It will be integrated into the Eko Core app after undergoing separate FDA review and completing trials. There's been no word yet as to when this will happen. Decision reporting tools such as these are intended to enhance healthcare by helping physicians make more informed decisions at the point of care.

Promising Technology


While the Eko Core stethoscope is now available to clinicians everywhere, the Stanford University Department of Medicine is purportedly going to be the first institution in the U.S. to provide the new devices to their internal medicine residents as part of an ongoing pilot program. It will be interesting to see if this promising new technology can make a difference in the way we presently address heart disease and the inroads we can make with it and other pressing health concerns.