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Eko Health develops smart stethoscopes, and also provides a virtual care and telemedicine platform
Steven Loeb interviews Adam Saltman, Chief Medical Officer at Eko Health, a developer of smart stethoscopes, as well as a provider of a virtual care and telemedicine platform.
Saltman joined the company, which recently raised a $65 million round, bringing its total funding to $95 million, in April, right as the COVID pandemic was hitting. Before that, he worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where he co-wrote a whitepaper outlining a new regulatory approach to AI and machine learning algorithms. He is also triple-board certified cardiothoracic surgeon who has worked at hospitals such as Mount Sinai Beth Israel and the University of Massachusetts.
For these digital health podcasts, our goal is to also understand these three high-level questions: How are we empowering the consumer? Are we creating productivity that also allows us to see overall economic costs go down? How is this advancement changing the role of the doctor?
Highlights from the interview:
- Eko was created to be the "Shazam for stethoscopes," meaning that it could pick up disease and alert the physician to the fact that a patient has a condition. The technology can be used anywhere on the body that makes a sound. The company also introduced its first package of AI algorithms earlier this year, which can detect heart murmurs, atrial fibrillation, as well as fast and slow heartbeats.
- The pandemic led to telehealth becoming a bigger priority for the company, which as developed its own live streaming application inside the Eko app. The company is trying to build out a platform to do their entire visit at home that is just like being in the physician's office, not just a video call with sound and EKG but filling the gap with the data they would get during an in-person visit.
- There are around 20 or 25 million people who have heart problems that are undiagnosed because doctors can't hear problems with a regular stethoscope. Eko's algorithms can detect if a patient has a heart murmur close to 88 percent of the time.
- By putting its devices into the hands of primary care physicians who can then detect heart murmurs and AFib, Eko can get them diagnosed earlier, thereby saving their lives and lowering the cost of care.
- Half of patients with heart failure wind up back in the hospital within 30 days. By giving them the hardware and the algorithm to take home with them, the physician can be alerted when the patient had impending trouble. Because the patient can stay home, it takes the burden off the physician's office, allowing them to be proactive, not reactive.
- Eko's vision is to become a data company, rather than a hardware company, and it plans to do that over the next two years.
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