Eko Health’s Symphony of Innovation: Bridging Cardiac Care Gaps

Eko Health’s Symphony of Innovation: Bridging Cardiac Care Gaps

By Erika Masako Welch, 14 December 2023
Eko Health Logo

Digital disruption and transformation have come to one of the most ubiquitous and oldest medical devices used by physicians around the world: the stethoscope. 

First invented by French physician Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec in 1816, the stethoscope helped him investigate sounds made by the heart and lungs to determine diagnoses supported by observations made during autopsies.

American HealthTech startup Eko Health is at the forefront of re-inventing this device, bringing cutting-edge digital technology to revolutionize stethoscopes. As the pioneers of this sonic revolution, Eko Health is not just re-imagining traditional medical devices; they are reshaping the landscape of diagnostics using AIpowered algorithms to detect cardiac issues at the first point of contact with healthcare professionals. 

 

The Founders of Eko Health: Connor Landgraf (middle, CEO), Tyler Crouch (right, Head of Education Product), Jason Bellet (left, Board Member).

The Founders of Eko Health: Connor Landgraf (middle, CEO), Tyler Crouch (right, Head of Education Product), Jason Bellet (left, Board Member).

Unlike conventional stethoscopes that transmit sound through traditional tubing, Eko Health’s device leverages digital technology to capture and analyze heart sounds with unparalleled precision. This evolution allows for more nuanced and accurate assessments, providing healthcare providers with a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s cardiovascular health.

The Heart of the Matter

According to the CDC, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States since 1950. One person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, each year, approximately 1/3rd of all deaths are attributable to heart disease in the United States, yet 2-4% of people with a heart attack are sent home in error. Though heart disease is the leading cause of death across all races and sex, rates of cardiac disease related deaths does vary by ethnic groups. Eko Health is on a mission to make highly accurate digital care ubiquitous and save millions of lives, particularly people from under-resourced groups.

Infobyte: Percentage of Cardiac Related Deaths by Ethnic Group in the USA (2021)

Infobyte: Percentage of Cardiac Related Deaths by Ethnic Group in the USA (2021)

The significance of Eko Health’s digital stethoscopes becomes even more evident when considering the persistent challenge of limited access to specialized cardiac care, particularly in remote and rural areas or simply underserved communities. Rural communities around the world suffer from significant disparities in cardiovascular health. With a shortage of cardiac specialists globally, there is a pressing need for solutions that empower general practitioners, nurses and even at-home care workers to manage cardiac issues effectively. 

Eko Health’s digital stethoscopes act as a powerful equalizer, bridging the gap between urban centers and remote healthcare facilities. By integrating artificial intelligence into the diagnostic process, and collecting thousands of heartbeat sounds onto the cloud, these devices enable healthcare providers to go beyond mere auscultation, providing a deeper understanding of cardiac conditions.

“A few years ago, we embarked on a journey to reimagine the most ubiquitous medical tool. Today, we’re proud to say that our AI-enabled digital stethoscopes are FDA-cleared and serve hundreds of thousands of providers. The innovation we set out to create is not just a vision, but a reality.” - Connor Landgraf, Co-Founder & CEO, Eko Health

In early 2023, Eko Health unveiled the SENSORA™ Cardiac Disease Detection Platform, designed to complement their digital stethoscopes with intelligent software. SENSORA™ employs AI to accurately detect structural murmurs, a vital marker of valvular heart disease (VHD), and when coupled with Care Pathway Analytics software, delivers valuable insights into the patient’s healthcare journey. This innovation greatly improves the ability of healthcare systems to consistently and accurately spot VHD during regular visits to primary care physicians. 

Valvular heart disease is a critical condition affecting over 8 million Americans and poses a significant threat if left untreated. Its complications can include heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and even death. Shockingly, more than half (57%) of clinically significant cases of valvular heart disease in older adults go unnoticed. However, when primary care physicians utilize SENSORA™ for structural murmur detection, their chances of identifying significant VHD more than double. This breakthrough technology has the potential to make a substantial impact on healthcare outcomes. 

The Shazam of Heartbeats

Image Courtesy: Eko

The lack of accessibility to specialized cardiac care for many communities around the world poses a significant challenge to ensuring timely diagnosis and intervention. Eko Health recognized this gap and embarked on a mission to democratize cardiac care, making it accessible to every corner of the globe. By developing a digital stethoscope and a unique database of heartbeat sounds, Eko Health empowers healthcare providers in rural areas to become the first line of defense against cardiac issues. 

Eko Health’s digital stethoscope serves as the linchpin in their innovative approach to cardiac diagnostics. Often referred to as the “Shazam of heartbeats,” this device captures and analyzes heart sounds with the precision of a symphony conductor. The AI-supported diagnostic tool decodes the intricate language of heartbeats, offering healthcare providers a window into the cardiovascular health of their patients. Today, Eko Health has served millions of patients and supported over 400,000 clinicians.

“Our goal is to help unlock equitable access to cardiac care, regardless of where a patient calls home. Rural communities shouldn’t have to compromise on the quality of care they receive.”  - Jason Bellet, Co-Founder & Board Member, Eko Health

A Sound Investment 

Eko Health was founded in 2013 by Connor Landgraf, Jason Bellet, and Tyler Crouch after seeing the limitations of traditional stethoscopes while studying biomedical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Eko’s first product, which was an attachment for traditional stethoscopes with a compatible smartphone application, received FDA clearance in 2015. The startup has since received FDA clearance for two other devices, and in 2018, Eko’s screening algorithm developed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic was awarded the “Breakthrough Device” designation from the FDA. 

The team have raised over US $125 million in capital thus far for their AI powered cardiac disease detection platform.

In a testament to the transformative potential of Eko Health’s mission, Better Ventures wrote the very first institutional check to invest in Eko Health. The Silicon Valley based impact VC firm has raised its fourth fund and in its twelfth year has successfully made 64 investments in total that have impacted 10 UN SDGs. Currently, Better Ventures has US $108 million in assets under management, and are predominantly looking at the sustainability, health, and economic opportunity sectors. Its founding partners, Wes Selke and Rick Moss say their founding investment thesis still rings true today: “Mission-driven founders outperform, thanks to the magnetic force of purpose.” 

Better Ventures invests primarily in pre-seed and seed stage science and technology startups with the potential to transform the economy in ways that will create impact at scale and generate outsized financial returns. Rick Moss, Partner at Better Ventures, said the team recognized the potential of Eko’s technology to revolutionize healthcare and bring about a paradigm shift in cardiac diagnostics, right away.

Better Ventures, a certified B-Corp, measures their impact via five portfolio wide metrics including people served, metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided or reduced, and quality jobs facilitated. These metrics map directly to the widely recognized impact standards of SDGs and IRIS+ indicators. 

Mapping Better Ventures’ Impact Standards for SDGs and IRIS+ Indicators

Infobyte: Mapping Better Ventures’ Impact Standards for SDGs and IRIS+ Indicators

In the heart of every community lies the potential for a healthcare revolution. Eko Health’s commitment to transforming cardiac care in underserved communities is not just a technological feat but a testament to the human spirit’s ability to innovate and uplift. With Better Ventures standing firmly behind this vision, the symphony of innovation continues, promising a future where every heartbeat is understood, every story is heard, and every individual has equal access to the care they deserve. 

For more information, check out: https://www.ekohealth.com/

To read more about impact investing and the state of impact investing in the world today, download and read the Special Report here

“Eko Health’s commitment to addressing a critical gap in healthcare aligns with our vision of supporting ventures that leverage science and technology to address the world’s biggest challenges. We are excited to be part of their journey as they pioneer a new era in cardiac care.” - Rick Moss, Founding Partner of Better Ventures

 

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