Eko, a digital health company, has partnered with Caregility, a telehealth platform company, to develop an integrated platform for smart stethoscopes. This collaboration consists of Eko’s Connect suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) being integrated with Caregility’s telehealth software and Eko’s smart stethoscope products being used on its platform. As a result, these solutions will be able to provide real-time phonocardiogram (PCG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) visuals and live-stream stethoscope sound to the interface. The stethoscope market can be broken down into four main types, not including smart stethoscopes. These categories are classic stethoscopes, which make up 93% of the market; cardiology stethoscopes, which take up 5% of the market; and electronic and lightweight stethoscopes, which make up the remaining 2% of the market. This product can be used for a variety of examinations, such as advanced heart, lung, and bowel auscultations, making it applicable to each category of the stethoscope. Additionally, this platform is compatible with a range of smart stethoscopes and, specifically, devices from 3M’s line of products.
This collaboration comes at an advantageous time, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has created a push for more advanced healthcare solutions, such as virtual examinations. The global market for stethoscopes was $435m in 2021 and is expected to increase to $715m by 2030.
There are several advantages of implementing smart stethoscopes into the patient examination process instead of traditional stethoscopes. This technology can improve speed and efficiency, as doctors no longer need to make these assessments in person and can instead conduct examinations virtually, with the data being sent directly from the device to the doctor in real time. The sensors used in smart stethoscopes can provide more accurate sound data and visuals due to their signal processing capabilities, even when the placement of the stethoscope is compromised. As the healthcare industry begins to see the value in using smart stethoscopes as an enhanced alternative solution, the potential for this technology’s growth is favourable. Currently, the adoption of the smart stethoscope is minimal relative to the overall market due to the challenges of doctors adjusting to new technology and the fact that these products cost more than a traditional stethoscope. However, as this technology is continually developed and becomes more prevalent, thereby driving the price down, the healthcare industry may begin to invest in these virtual healthcare solutions.
Smart stethoscopes may play a greater role in the overall diagnostic process as companies develop products with increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence, and these developments have the potential to change a large portion of the medical framework.