Devices & Diagnostics, Startups

Eko cofounder shares progress on digital stethoscope plans for telemedicine, EHR integration

Eko Devices COO and Cofounder Jason Bellet also shared the company’s plans for 2017.

Source: Eko Devices

Source: Eko Devices

One year after Eko Devices secured 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an adapter that converts standard analog stethoscopes into digital devices, the company has now earned a CE Mark in Europe for the Eko CORE. Canadian regulators also cleared the device. In a phone interview with MedCity News, Jason Bellet, Eko COO and cofounder, gave an update on the company’s progress in the U.S. and Europe as well as Eko’s plans for telemedicine through a live-streaming service it launched earlier this year.

The CORE device works with an app that allows a stethoscope to wirelessly connect to a Bluetooth device to transmit heart and lung sounds and integrate that data into certain electronic health records. A web-based dashboard helps enable clinicians to do patient monitoring and virtual consultations.

In Europe, Bellet said the company’s first market would be the UK. Eko is collaborating with the National Health Service to pilot the devices in hospitals where they’ll provide greater insights for General Practitioners. The company also wants to add the device to home nurse programs.

The top priorities for the company are electronic health record integration and telemedicine, Bellet noted. Earlier this year, the company launched a “HIPAA-compliant stethoscope live-streaming service” called Eko LiveStream. The service is being used by clinicians alongside HIPAA-compliant videostreaming services such as Zoom and VSee to share real-time heart and lung sounds — a product the device business initially previewed at the American Telemedicine Association conference, Bellet noted.

The idea of the live-streaming service is that it moves the technology beyond a store and forward application to open up real-time monitoring applications, Bellet said. Clinicians can purchase the CORE device directly from the company and so far, 3,500 clinicians are using it, by Bellet’s count.

The telemedicine application is fairly new. But Bellet said rural healthcare facilities were its first priority as the company rolls out the service. Eko currently has 10 customers using the live-streaming service in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Georgia, among other areas. The second phase of Eko’s telemedicine push will focus on chronic disease management, such as COPD and congestive heart failure, according to Bellet. Although clinicians and health systems make up the majority of Eko’s customers, Bellet said it wouldn’t be much of a leap to place Eko CORE in nursing homes so that nurses with residents could connect to physicians.

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EHR integration is another important focus. “The biggest ask we get is for EHR integration,” said Bellet. “We have quite a big list of small to medium EHR companies for integration. Cloud-based EHRs have been a target.” Dr Chrono is one example of that. Eko hopes to integrate with larger EHR providers in the future.

So what’s on Eko’s to-do list for 2017? The company is working on a clinical decision support service that can be incorporated into the platform for CORE, Bellet said. There’s also a second device in the works, though Bellet declined to go into the details.

Eko previously took part in Stanford’s StartX accelerator and is currently a member of Dreamit’s latest cohort.