Can a Smartphone Improve CPR? An ER Doc's Invention Hits the Market


At a recent conference, a prototype for a two-handed cradle for chest compressions generated a huge amount of interest.

This article originally appeared at, part of the HCPLive network.

For anybody who has performed CPR during a “code”, it is feels a lot different than 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 per minute and provides feedback to the rescuer. However, the app required the rescuer to hold it in one hand while performing 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.

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