Silicon Valley start-up Eko Devices has created the world’s first ‘smart’ stethoscope that integrates heart sounds directly into a patient’s electronic medical record (EHR).

The digital stethoscope, called Eko Core, is also the first device that wirelessly streams heart sounds to a HIPAA-compliant smartphone to receive clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When the Eko Core is attached to an analogue stethoscope, it records the heart sounds and sends the data to an iPhone app via Bluetooth. Clinicians can analyse and view a heart sound waveform, save heart sounds directly to a patient’s EHR and securely share heart sounds with other healthcare professionals for a second opinion.

“We’ve started by pairing the oldest and the newest tools in the medical toolkit – the stethoscope and the smartphone,” said Eko’s Co-Founder and CEO, Connor Landgraf.

According to the developers, Eko Core enables clinicians to switch between analogue and digital modes. Doctors, who want to keep using their existing stethoscope, will have the option to buy an attachment for analogue stethoscopes for $199. Additionally, Eko also has a $299 version that filters out ambient noise so that physicians can focus on the sound of the heart.

“The stethoscope is an iconic and universal part of medical practice, a tool which nearly every doctor, nurse and student learns to use. The beauty of the Eko Core is that it captures the heart sounds in a streamlined way that has never been done before, interfacing seamlessly into our traditional exam without requiring any extra effort,” said a cardiologist from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr John Chorba.

UCSF’s Department of Cardiology is leading Eko’s ongoing clinical trial while Stanford University Department of Medicine will be the first institution in the US to deploy the device to its internal medicine residents as part of an ongoing pilot study.

Eko is also developing a clinician decision support algorithm, a “Shazam for Heartbeats”, currently under FDA review, that will be included with the Eko Core app.  The algorithm will assist clinicians to analyse a patient’s heart sounds in real time to detect anomalies that occur in roughly one of every four people.

Eko Devices has already secured a partnership with Drchrono, a platform for EHRs to get its data to flow into those records, and plans to begin selling to physicians later this month.

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