It arrives in two boxes reminiscent of Apple product packaging. One is for the chest area (the part in contact with the body) and the other is for the detachable earpiece (tube + ear tip). The CORE 500 is clearly an upgrade to the Eko DUO stethoscope. Like its predecessor, the CORE 500 uses only the headphones, smartphone, and chest area, eliminating the hassle of earpiece tubes. It has a USB-C charging port, allowing for 5 hours of continuous use.
The CORE 500 chest piece itself is slightly heavier than the DUO at 6.6oz (instead of 3.6oz), but the construction is much sturdier and more satisfying to hold. It is durable and has a form factor that is more familiar and comparable to the traditional stethoscopes most people use (such as the Littmann Classic III).
This leads us to ask important questions: Does it work?
In short, yes. It works very well, especially at up to 40X digital amplification.
The Eko CORE 500 stethoscope boasts Eko’s most premium and clearest digital audio with TrueSound technology and active noise cancellation.
When testing this device outside, with airplanes overhead and vehicle traffic nearby, being audible was not an issue while testing the various filters. I was able to hear heart, lung, and bowel sounds all as expected using the provided earpieces (eartips + tube) or using my own earbuds. I used Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with active noise cancellation, and the effect is similar to using the supplied noise-canceling eartips and earpieces.
The outside environment was the noisiest, so I had to turn up the volume to maximum and turn on noise cancellation, but the amplification was enough to produce an appropriate sound. Using a regular non-digital stethoscope in the same environment made it difficult to hear most sounds when the environment was loud and noisy. Of course, you can play sound directly from your phone’s speakers (or an external speaker that your phone is connected to), but for most real-world situations, earbuds or earpieces are ideal.
Let’s also talk about the ECG features of the chest area. CORE 500 provides a 3-lead ECG (an improvement over the 1-lead ECG provided by Eko DUO). The stethoscope comes with a few alcohol wipes to use before touching the skin, and the on-screen mobile ECG feed will automatically start when the chest area detects an acceptable signal.
The on-screen view of available features is a big improvement over the DUO, where I felt like I had to refer to my phone to figure out listening filter modes or other functions if I forgot which function the onboard LED signaled.
The Eko mobile app has since gone through several user interface updates and is now easier to navigate without knowing what settings are available. The process of connecting the device to a smartphone via Bluetooth was quick and painless. But more important is the ability to visualize and analyze data in real time and the options to record, store, and share data.
The app is powered by Eko’s AI-enabled detection software, available free through the Eko app (or SENSORA AI-enabled detection software for enterprise customers). AI is used to detect heart disease (AFib, bradycardia, tachycardia) and provides a very fast turnaround time (<1 minute) after recording the exam, informing the user whether noises or abnormalities have been detected in the ECG reading. For chest placement, the app has a tutorial screen showing the appropriate positions.
The price point of $429 (including free case and engraving) may seem a bit steep to some, but it all depends on whether you think these features will be helpful in clinical practice.
Although many clinicians trust non-digital stethoscopes, many carry digital stethoscopes because of their amplification and recording capabilities. In noisy environments like ambulances, digital amplification can really make a difference. I’ve also heard from the field that earpiece tubes can be cumbersome when you need to reach a patient in a less-than-optimal position, and that wireless listening options are great. On that front, we’d also like to note some nice hardware design details. It’s a quarter-turn connection that locks the chest piece and earphones together instead of screwing the parts together with multiple turns. This makes switching between using the chest piece alone or with the earpieces quicker and easier.
Likewise, devices like this could also be helpful in remote situations where telehealth capabilities or access to certain medical equipment are more difficult. This is where the 3-lead ECG feature can serve as a useful, quick interim solution for screening (which falls short of a full ECG examination in a formal clinical setting) and to quickly record murmurs or abnormal sounds to share with health care providers in emergency situations. You can. Your health care provider or team.
Overall, the CORE 500 is an easy-to-use digital stethoscope with excellent sound and features that traditional stethoscopes cannot offer.
Product Information Page: Eko Health | CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope
Flashback: Eko DUO Digital ECG + Stethoscope: Exclusive Interviews & Reviews; Review: Eko Core Digital Stethoscope; Eko Launches New CORE Digital Stethoscope Products Eko DUO Stethoscope with Built-in ECG Available Now Eko Core Stethoscope with New Digital Features FDA Cleared