Eko, a digital health company, has partnered with the telehealth company Caregility to develop an integrated platform for smart stethoscope technology. This collaboration comes at an appropriate time as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for more advanced healthcare solutions such as virtual examinations, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
GlobalData estimates that the market for stethoscopes to reach $715 million by 2030 from $435 million in 2021. The market is divided into four main categories excluding smart stethoscopes. These categories are, the classic stethoscopes which make up 93% of the market, followed by cardiology stethoscopes occupying 5% of the market, while electronic and lightweight stethoscopes account for the remaining 2% share.
The collaboration will involve the integration of Eko's Connect suite of application programming interfaces with Caregility telehealth software as well as the use of Eko's smart stethoscopes on its platform.
Aidan Robertson, Medical Analyst at GlobalData, comments: "With the increasing demand for examinations and the strain that this demand may put on the healthcare system, smart stethoscopes provide an efficient alternative to in-person assessments."
The platform developed by the partnership can provide real-time phonocardiograms (PCG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) visuals and can live-stream stethoscope sound to their interface. This technology can be used for a variety of examinations such as advanced heart, lung and bowel auscultations meaning it can be applied to each category of the stethoscope market. Additionally, this platform will be compatible with a range of smart stethoscopes from 3M's line of products.
The adoption of the smart stethoscope is minimal relative to the overall market due to the various challenges such as doctors' adaptability to new technology and the expensiveness of these products compared to traditional stethoscopes. However, as this technology is continually developed and becomes more prevalent, driving the prices down, the healthcare industry may begin to invest in these virtual healthcare solutions realizing its potential for more efficient, widespread and accurate healthcare examinations.
Robertson concludes: "Looking to the future, some smart stethoscopes currently in development are incorporating AI technology into their product in order to implement automated analysis as part of the diagnostic process. This shift in the assessment process has the potential to significantly speed up and enhance a huge portion of the medical workflow."