The Mayo Clinic is joining forces with smart stethoscope company Eko to develop a new product that will employ machine learning and a digital stethoscope to assist doctors in detecting potentially dangerous heart conditions.
The pair plan to build a machine learning-based algorithm that can screen for a low ejection fraction, which means a weak heart pump in patients. The team developing the product will be able to use the Mayo Clinic’s cardiovascular database and combine it with Eko’s cardiac monitoring platform, according to the organizations. The pair plan to first run the technology through clinical trials and then submit for FDA clearance.
Over 600,000 people die every year from heart disease — making it the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US, according to the CDC.
The new technology is billed as an alternative to expensive ejection fraction exams, such as echocardiograms.
What’s the trend
In February Eko Devices landed $5 million in new funding bringing its total financing to $7.8 million. In 2017 the company got the FDA nod for Duo, a smart heart monitor that is a combination of a digital stethoscope and portable electrocardiogram.
Examples of using algorithms to detect cardiac disease have been sprouting up all over news. In April data published in the Scientific Reports describe an algorithm that allows users to measure a patient’s pulse wave velocity using the camera on a smartphone.
Google has also been jumping into the game. In February the tech giant’s AI team announced that it could successfully predict cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke from images of a patient’s retina.
On the record
“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,” Dr. Paul Friedman, chair of cardiovascular medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said in a statement. “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.”