Not-for-profit health network and digital health company collaborate to support virtual care for those in rural communities
“We have a unique opportunity to explore all the ways in which we can enhance the patient and provider experience,” said Albert Chan, M.D., chief of digital patient experience for Sutter Health, a not-for-profit health network in Northern California that cares for more than 3 million patients. “Embracing innovative technology and working closely with those who develop it put us in the driver’s seat to consistently improve and refine our approach to high-quality, personalized care.”
Sutter is piloting Eko’s cardiac monitoring platform with patients who have been diagnosed with a cardiac condition and receive primary care at Sutter Medical Foundation in Amador County, which is federally recognized as a rural healthcare provider. Using a telemedicine cart equipped with the FDA-cleared Eko Core Digital Stethoscope, the Eko Telemedicine Software and a smart tablet, patients in Amador County can enjoy virtual visits with their cardiologists in Sacramento, about 50 miles southeast from California’s capital city.
The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope—the first stethoscope to wirelessly pair with tablets —enables cardiology-grade live streaming of heart and lung sounds to the cardiologist during the visit. A medical assistant at the primary care office operates the stethoscope while the cardiologist listens in Sacramento through the Eko Telemedicine software. Meanwhile, patients can see and speak directly with their cardiologist using a secure videoconference application. The cardiologist is able to emulate an in-person exam by listening to high-grade stethoscope audio while conducting a visual assessment of the patient using smart tablet’s high definition lens.
Tele-cardiology can offer significant time and cost savings to the cardiology patients based in or near Amador County who may otherwise be required to commute two or more hours for an in-person visit with their cardiologist in Sacramento. The long drive, sometimes in California Central Valley heat, can place physical and financial stress on patients.
Sutter’s use of Eko is also helping support clinician satisfaction while serving the community’s need for specialists. Sutter understands the demands on doctors’ schedules, whose workdays can be 12 hours or more. Digital innovations can offer creative solutions so doctors can still deliver high quality care in a more efficient ways. The input and feedback from cardiologists caring for Sutter patients will be instrumental as well in refining how the telehealth technology provides most value.
“Sutter is always looking for ways to take care of those who take care of our patients. Innovative digital tools can be investments in our care teams, as well as our patients,” Dr. Chan added.
“Sutter and Eko’s teamwork represents a powerful step forward for tele-cardiology, supporting the delivery of high-quality cardiac care to those who live in more remote areas,” said Connor Landgraf, co-founder & CEO of Eko. “Eko’s cardiac monitoring platform aims to advance telemedicine by empowering cardiologists with the ability to conduct cardiology-grade examinations from hundreds of miles away.”
Eko closed its $7 million Series A round of funding that includes investments from ARTIS Ventures, 1812 Ventures, and DigiTX Partners, as well as Sutter.