Innovation Watch

Eko Devices

Eko Core Electronic Stethoscope

Eko Devices brings heart sounds to the mHealth arena with their Eko Core stethoscope peripheral and iOS app. The Eko app is a simple transmission platform that sends a patient’s phonocardiogram to an online portal.

The Eko Core consists of a Bluetooth module that can be inserted between the chestpiece and tubing of any standard binaural stethoscope.  This means that the device can be used with a clinician’s existing stethoscope, though Eko also offers their own analog stethoscope for those clinicians who might hesitate to use an existing stethoscope with the Bluetooth module.  This ability to use an existing stethoscope, rather than replacing it outright, is one of the unique elements of this product.

After pairing the iPhone with the Core, I was prompted to enter my position (standing, sitting, or supine) and the placement of the bell (aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid, or mitral).  After recording my mitral sounds, the app allowed me to type in an email address in order to share the video clip. The file cannot be stored on the phone, which is a security function, but it also precludes use in areas without a Wi-Fi or cellular signal. 

The app will close if the user accepts a call, minimizes the screen, or remains inactive, prompting a new log-in for each session. This can be avoided by creating a unique PIN for unlocking the app in the Account Settings. This kind of locking functionality is fairly common across a range of mobile healthcare applications, and might be improved in future versions by utilizing built-in biometric features of iOS devices.

The Eko transmits the phonocardiogram to the app via Bluetooth, and the app pushes the file to the cloud.  Eko Devices has a fairly straightforward online portal for storing and playback of files. I was able to share my recording by entering in the email address of a collegue, which prompted an auto-generated email to him with a link back to the Eko website. 

Eko Core will directly sync with patient files housed in the electronic health record Dr. Chron, and an Eko customer service representative indicated that the company is working on a software development kit for other vendors or facilities wishing to integrate this device. I was able to download a PDF summary of the stethoscope report but I could not download a recording. The PDF, however, does have a link back to the patients Eko desktop file for playback, and could easilly be attached to an email or uploaded into other electronic health records.

The Eko Core itself retails for $199, and Eko has tested it with Littman analog stethoscopes.  The Core can most likely be used with other analog stethoscopes with the same tubing diameter, though the company doesn’t guarantee this. For another $100, you can purchase Eko’s own analog stethoscope with the Core recorder.