Lifespan partnership receives $2.7M grant for early-detection technology

LIFESPAN CORP. and California-based digital health company Eko have teamed up to develop a low-cost tool to diagnose pulmonary hypertension, with support from a $2.7 million Small Business Innovation Research grant. / COURTESY EKO

PROVIDENCE – Pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure, can have debilitating and deadly outcomes. But the “gold standard” for early detection is expensive and invasive, often leading to more than two-year delays in diagnosis and poorer outcomes.

In an effort to make early detection more accessible, Lifespan Corp. and California-based digital health company Eko have teamed up to develop a low-cost diagnostic tool, with a boost from a $2.7 million Small Business Innovation Research grant.

Currently, doctors use ultrasound and catheterization technology to detect the potentially deadly condition, which affects up to 1% of the population globally, according to the American Journal of Physiology.

Using’s Eko’s DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope technology, the health organizations are seeking to develop an algorithm to detect pulmonary hypertension and its severity. The smart stethoscope technology can already detect certain heart conditions in seconds, Eko says, including heart murmurs and atrial fibrillation.

Now, the researchers are putting that technology to the test “when compared to the current gold standard,” said Dr. Gaurav Choudhary, a principal investigator, professor and director of cardiovascular research at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute.

“This machine-learning algorithm has the potential to be a low-cost, easily implementable and sustainable medical technology that assists health care professionals in identifying more patients with pulmonary hypertension,” Choudhary said.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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