Eko, the company that makes smart electronic stethoscopes that we’re very fond of and which is sponsoring our popular Medgadget 2018 Sci-Fi Writing Contest, has now partnered with the Mayo Clinic to develop automated tools to screen patients for heart conditions. Initially, they’re focusing the attention on spotting low ejection fraction, an indication of a weak heart, from auscultation sounds.
Currently, echocardiography is used to identify the presence of a low ejection fraction, but it’s costly and requires a separate procedure, making it a poor screening modality. The new partnership aims to combine Eko’s ability to record high quality auscultations with Mayo Clinic’s expertise and thousands of previously compiled recordings of stethoscope exams of a variety of patients. Tying together all this will be a machine-learning AI algorithm that will be trained on the old recordings to recognize signs of trouble on newly obtained stethoscope exams.
“It’s a privilege to collaborate with Mayo Clinic on this technology that can assist physicians with their patients’ cardiovascular care,” said Eko CEO Connor Landgraf. “By co-developing this technology, we can combine the knowledge of millions of ECGs and healthcare screenings to get an almost instantaneous snapshot of a patient’s heart.”
“With this collaboration we hope to transform the stethoscope in the pocket of every physician and nurse from a hand tool to a power tool,” said Paul Friedman, M.D., Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. “The community practitioner performing high school sports physicals and the surgeon about to operate may be able to seamlessly tap the knowledge of an experienced cardiologist to determine if a weak heart pump is present simply by putting a stethoscope on a person’s chest for a few seconds.”
It is hoped that this partnership will soon lead to a commercially available product that will let primary care physicians automatically screen their patients for conditions that are now only properly screened by cardiologists.