Eko Devices raises $2M for smartphone-connected stethoscope device

By Aditi Pai
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EkoBerkeley, California-based smartphone-enabled stethoscope company Eko Devices has raised $2 million in a round led by existing investor Founder.org with participation from Stanford StartX, and angels, including former HHS advisor John Noonan and the cofounders of music identification company Shazam. This brings the company's total funding to date to $2.8 million.

Eko's device, called Core, hooks on to an analog stethoscope, records the sound, and sends data to an app via Bluetooth so that clinicians can visualize, record, listen to, and analyze heart sounds. Clinicians can use the app or web portal to attach heart sound reports and recordings to certain electronic health records. Currently Eko's users can send heart data to providers using the drchrono EHR, but the developers are working on building integrations with other EHRs too. 

When the app and device commercially launch this summer, Eko Cofounder and COO Jason Bellet told MobiHealthNews the app will capture a waveform called a phonocardiogram to clinician review the heart's sound in real time, to identify abnormalities.

The app will eventually offer its own analysis of the heart sounds based on an algorithm that Eko is building, but Bellet said the company still needs to take its algorithm through clinical trials and the regulatory process.

"One of the most exciting aspects of having digital heart sounds would be the ability to provide clinicians with decision care support," Bellet said. "We are working with scientists and some cardiology advisors to build out a decision support algorithm that will help clinicians at the point of care determine characteristics of heart sound, such as a murmor, intensity, location, and then ultimately be able make more informed care decisions."

Eko has submitted their device for FDA-clearance and aims to receive a clearance for the hardware and software in late Q2 2015. The device's predicate, the Littmann digital stethoscope, was cleared in less than a month, according to Bellet.

The company is also launching a clinical trial with University of California San Francisco (UCSF) cardiologists. Eko aims to enroll 200 patients who were referred to UCSF's echocardiogram lab to assess validity of the device and compare their analytics to "the gold standard echocardiogram".

Eko's device will retail for $199 and the company is offering their app on a freemium model -- it'll be free for individual practitioners and a paid version will be available for clinics, hospitals, and health systems.

Eko Devices' leadership team includes Jon Duckworth, previously ECG device maker AliveCor's director of operations and manufacturing, who is Eko's director of hardware and operations.