Eko rolls out AI-powered stethoscopes to UK clinics through Imperial College London

Eko Health is rolling out its artificial intelligence-equipped stethoscopes to primary care practices across the U.K., through a program led by Imperial College London. 

The effort—dubbed TRICORDER, inspired by the Star Trek handheld health scanner, and described as a large-scale deployment—is being funded by the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Research, to assist frontline healthcare workers in catching cases of heart failure, valve disease and atrial fibrillation. 

The company’s digital tech platform, known as Sensora in the U.S., recently obtained a U.K. regulatory approval. TRICORDER will start with 100 general practitioner clinics across the country, with the goal of directing people who need deeper diagnostic workups to schedule an echocardiogram.

“Heart failure admission alone costs the UK over £2 billion annually, and an unacceptable 80% of these diagnoses are made during emergency admissions,” team leader Nicholas Peters, a professor of cardiology at Imperial College London and the NHS Trust, said in a statement.

TRICORDER’s investigators also estimate that applying Eko’s cardiac detection during regularly scheduled primary care visits could save payers £2,400 per patient, or about $3,000 U.S., and help patients skip a potential visit to the emergency room.

Eko’s AI approach takes a digital stethoscope with noise-reduction capabilities and combines it with a three-lead electrocardiogram sensor. By analyzing heart sounds and ECG waves, its algorithms aim to detect structural murmurs that could signal a leaky heart valve, as well as spot reductions in the left ventricle’s pumping performance that can be linked to heart failure.

The company’s program for detecting heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, or HFrEF, is currently undergoing FDA review, according to Eko, which noted that previous studies pegged the HFrEF algorithm’s sensitivity and specificity as “approaching 80%.” Sensora made its enterprise debut in the U.S. in February, after a heart murmur clearance in July 2022.

In September, Eko announced a team-up with Astellas Pharma and Welldoc, with the goal of developing a new heart failure solution integrating Eko’s digital stethoscope with Welldoc’s digital therapeutics. 

Astellas has dubbed the proprietary approach Z1608 and said it plans to seek a new FDA clearance for remote patient monitoring and an accompanying smartphone app.