Can a smartphone improve CPR? An ER physician’s invention reaches the market

For anybody who has performed CPR during a “code”, it is feels a lot different that one would expect from watching it in on television or compared to doing it on a dummy during in training. For starters, it is always performed during an emergency, with an actual dying patient. Second, it turns out to be quite tiring to perform compressions for an extended period of time while giving rescue breaths. And, distressingly, the rescuer has almost no way of knowing if he or she is doing it at an optimal rate or force.

This was the problem that an app called PocketCPR tried to solve. It launched in the App store in November 2009, by Zoll Corporation. Using the built-in accelerometer in the iPhone to approximate the depth and rate of chest compressions, the app compares them to the recommended guidelines of 4-5 cm deep and 100 compressions/minute and provides feedback to the rescuer. However, the app required the rescuer to hold it in one hand while performing a compressions. This was clearly not practical in real life situations, and could make an already tiring task even more so.


Dr. Ivor Kovic, an ER physician in Croatia who performs CPR on a regular basis, wondered if there is a better way. In a wide ranging at Mobile Monday Amsterdam event called Mobile Health, which took place in Amsterdam last February, Dr. Kovic covered many ways in which smartphones are changing health care technology. The one segment which produced the greatest applause, however, was when he showed his prototype for a two-handed cradle for chest compressions which also serves to contains the iPhone running PocketCPR. This seemingly simple device would simultaneously make the force of the compressions more effective while holding the iPhone in a position where the screen would be visible displaying useful information.

CPR cradle prototype (MOMO).jpg

After that conference, the invention was displayed at at several international innovation fairs and conferences, receiving awards as well as quickly garnering media interest (Endadget, The Guardian, MedGadget). Sensing the opportunity, Dr. Kovic went on to launch his own company and is now launching a very smartly designed CPR cradle as well as an accompanying iPhone app (an Android version is coming). Internal cross sectional studies performed on CPR manikins have apparently clearly demonstrated the benefits of using the patent-pending invetion.

According to Dr. Kovic,

The Ivor Medical version of the CPR feedback app is designed based on real life resuscitation experiences, to provide a certified rescuers with quick access to CPR feedback. It features several unique characteristics like the PRO mode of operation intended to be used when the patient’s airway is secured, thus providing both prompts for chest compressions and correct rate of bag ventilations.

The CPR Cradle is an interesting and new type of hybrid device developed for a specific clinical indication. While it may not be used with the same frequency as, say, a medical calculator app, the possibility of benefit to the affected patient may turn out to be quite large. Stay tuned next week as we will present an interview with the inventor of the CPR Cradle, Dr. Ivor Kovic


Felasfa Wodajo, MD

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6 Responses to Can a smartphone improve CPR? An ER physician’s invention reaches the market

  1. David Doherty October 6, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    Check out this great youtube video of Dr Kovic presenting his invention at Mobile Monday Amsterdam:

    • Iltifat Husain October 6, 2010 at 8:08 am #

      Thanks for the link! We actually linked this video a long time ago,
      great demonstration in it.

  2. House whisperer October 6, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    a novelty.

    Turns out, you just push hard and fast. When My heart stops, please don’t go looking for a chest compression phone cradle K? THx

    • Iltifat Husain October 6, 2010 at 9:40 am #

      I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. For educational purposes might
      be extremely useful — will be interesting to see how exactly it could
      be implemented in an actual code. With the newer guidelines placing a
      heavy emphasis on chest compressions this might gain more traction.

  3. Rareseed October 16, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    I suggest to take a look to our website
    We developed an application similar to CPR pro in 2008.
    We pubblished some data during ESICM 2009:
    Federico Semeraro

    • Felasfa Wodajo October 17, 2010 at 3:07 am #

      Thank you for letting us know.
      It is encouraging that you were able to collect data and present it at the Resuscitation conference in 2009.
      It seems your suggested technique is to use an arm band.
      Please let us know what your experience has been with use of this app in the field and any reports from your users that we can share with our readers.
      As a courtesy to our readers, the link on the App store is:

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