PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – A connected stethoscope developed in the Bay Area has been declared one of the best inventions of the year by Time Magazine.
Heidi Burns knows she has a heart murmur. The 26-year-old had her first heart surgery when she just a baby. But she has never heard her own heart beat until now.
Dr. Errol Ozdalga of Stanford Medicine is using the Eko Core, an electronic stethoscope attachment that allows any medical practitioner, not just cardiologists, to see, record and share a patient's heart sounds.
"What normally goes in the patient's chart is just a description of the heart sound," Ozdalaga told KPIX 5. "So the opportunity to have an actual recording of the heart sound is a new opportunity to provide better quality information."
Burns' heart sounds are streamed to the HIPAA-compliant Eko Core app on Ozdalga's smartphone, then onto her electronic health records.
The recording is almost available instantaneously for Stanford cardiologist Dr. Ian Rogers to hear and see.
"What we hear is the murmur, sound of blood flowing thru Heidi's heart, the arteries that were surgically repaired when she was an infant," Rogers said.
While Dr. Rogers said the device doesn't replace a traditional exam, hearing Burns' heart sounds remotely could help decide if she needs a second opinion.
"The stethoscope is worn around every clinicians chest around the world, but it's one of the most disconnected tools in medicine," said Eko co-founder Jason Bellet.
According to Bellet, the FDA approved device is being tested by clinicians as far away as Haiti. He hopes data gathered now will lead to faster and more accurate diagnostic ability in the future.
"To make it have real time capabilities so that you can hear exactly what I am hearing at the same time," Bellet said.
As for Heidi Burns, hearing her heart murmur for the first time is empowering. "I feel a lot more confident now going to doctors, being able to share that information with them," she said. "Before I couldn't really describe it, but now they can actually hear and see it no matter what doctor I am at."
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