Digital stethoscopes get praised for their hi-tech features, but their steep price and low availability makes them really unappealing. The Eko attachment represents a far more accessible upgrade that improves the way clinicians interact with their patients and with the stethoscope itself.
Developed by Berkeley, California-based Eko Devices, this device attaches to analog stethoscopes and, using a companion app, provides additional details during the auscultation. All that clinicians have to do in order to attach Eko to their stethoscopes is to remove the stem from the tubing and place the device inbetween.
Eko comes with a button that enables medical personnel to switch between analog and digital modes. When the digital mode is selected, Eko makes use of Bluetooth to transmit recorded data to the companion iPhone app. If heart sounds happen to be hardly audible, Eko provides the option of amplifying them and recording them for later reference.
The fact that the companion app is only available on iOS is a great disappointment, as I’m pretty sure there are plenty of doctors out there who use Android devices. The mobile platform can store the name of the patient, as well as a history of the auscultations. Doctors are free to share data pertaining to a patient with other specialists, just in case they need a second opinion, and all this can be done from within the app.
Visual feedback is always important, but performing an electrocardiogram on each patient takes time. The app is capable of doing this right away, and on top of that, some thresholds are displayed in order to establish whether the patient has a normal heart rate or not. Such features are particularly useful for med students who might forget every now and then the exact physiological values.
Doctors and medical students alike can join a waitlist on the Eko Devices website in order to find out when the Eko stethoscope attachment will hit the market. Even though there has been no word on how much it will cost, Eko should be cheaper than electronic stethoscopes such as the Littmann 3100, as otherwise it would defeat its entire purpose.
Eko Devices is currently looking for business partners, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they launched a crowdfunding campaign sometime in the near future.
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