In 1816, French physician René Laennec invented an instrument that allowed doctors to listen to the heart and lungs. That device — a stethoscope

Eko Health scores $41M to detect heart and lung disease earlier and more accurately

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2024-06-11 20:00:04

In 1816, French physician René Laennec invented an instrument that allowed doctors to listen to the heart and lungs. That device — a stethoscope — eventually evolved from a simple wooden tube to a lightweight two-earpiece version most doctors today wear around their necks.

Eko Health, a startup founded in 2013, is bringing this ubiquitous medical tool into the digital age by enhancing it with AI. Over the past decade, Eko has sold its stethoscope to more than 500,000 physicians and healthcare providers. Because they’ve been used on millions of patients, the company has amassed a large dataset of chest sounds and electrocardiogram (ECG) information, which Eko used to develop various algorithms for detecting heart conditions.

“The stethoscope exam is incredibly inconsistent and inaccurate. Patients get late diagnoses, or they get misdiagnosed,” said Connor Landgraf, Eko Health’s CEO and founder. “We want to bring precision using AI that could enable patients to get earlier, more competent diagnoses.”

Landgraf explained that with a traditional stethoscope, a physician can’t always hear the subtle differences between health and disease. “With our AI, they can combine [heart sounds] with cardiac rhythm assessment and then have the AI interpret that. You almost have the skills of a cardiologist in the pocket of a primary care physician or even a nurse practitioner or a frontline healthcare professional,” he said.

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