As technology leads to better healthcare options, physicians need to make sure that patients have access to these options. It’s a difficult problem to tackle, with everything from geographic location to insurance affecting a patient’s experience. That’s why Eko Devices, a Silicon Valley startup, decided to create a digital stethoscope that allows patients to transmit their heart sounds to expert cardiologists via an iPhone app.
It’s been attempted before, but Eko Core is the first digital stethoscope that’s been approved by the FDA. The company has also joined up with Drchrono, an electronic health record platform, so that it can integrate the stethoscopes’ data into existing medical records.
The device could be a game-changer for patients around the world. Instead of relying on big-name medical centers that can seriously add up in both money and time, patients with access to Eko Core could have their hearts monitored by their local physicians. Then they could simply transmit the results to top cardiologists. Because the device streams audible and visible heart activity in a secure cloud, physicians can see, hear, and analyze large amounts of data.
“Both with travel, work time that is lost, having families, and then even insurance in and out of state, et cetera, it is a challenge oftentimes to get to a big academic medical center generally in a city far away from you,” Ami Bhatt, director of cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Chicago Tribune. Eko Core could help cut out the middleman and bring results to more people in more places– and what’s more, it could cut down on visits that never needed to happen in the first place.
“Physicians don’t have confidence in their ability to use the stethoscope in a lot of situations so they frequently refer people to cardiologists when it’s not necessary,”
Eko Core cofounder Connor Landgraf told TechCrunch. That possibility for human error, the team hopes, will be removed by the presence of Eko Core.
The Eko team has other ideas for combatting human error in diagnoses as well. John Chorboa, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, is currently testing an algorithm created by the startup that’s meant to diagnose heart conditions. Chorboa plans to compare the algorithm’s accuracy to that of an echocardiagram. He suggested to the Chicago Tribune that “maybe [the algorithm] can do it in a better way than the human ear can, and maybe it can tell us something about the human heart that we didn’t really know before.”