HD Medical, a newcomer in the smart medical device landscape, is devoted to creating a stethoscope for the new millennium. The company designs smart devices that make it easier for more of the population to have reliable access to state-of-the-art clinical diagnostic equipment.
According to Muthu Krishnan, senior vice president of business development at HD Medical, the company has struck upon a first-of-its-kind diagnostic tool: a stethoscope that can see. Krishnan claims that the device, the ViScope, will ensure that the stethoscope remains relevant well into this century.
The ViScope resembles the classic stethoscope from the tubes up, but connected to the chestpiece is a full-color HD LCD screen. While doctors can still listen to a patient’s vitals with the included earpieces, the ViScope converts sounds generated by the body into a visual display. According to Krishnan, the ViScope is as sensitive as any electronic stethoscope, but its on-board computer allows doctors to perform “dynamic auscultation” as it converts heartbeats into waveforms. The ViScope is also connected to the cloud, which will allow it to serve as a distant patient monitoring device.
The classic phonocardiogram presentation of the ViScope promises to take subjectivity out of the equation, and if it fulfills this promise, doctors will be able to diagnose maladies ranging from heart murmurs to pneumonia with greater confidence than ever before. With the standard stethoscope, doctors must interpret the sounds of the body themselves, and this subjectivity has been known to result in misdiagnosis.
In fact, research from the American Medical Association suggests that most first, second and third year doctors have difficulty in distinguishing among several common heart problems with the stethoscope. The ViScope amplifies body sounds up to 30 times with high fidelity, which will make it easier for new doctors to properly diagnose heart issues by sound alone should they choose to. The device runs on a long-lasting lithium-ion battery, and its display can be expanded to any laptop.
How It Works
After gleaning and amplifying sounds detected by its diaphragm, the ViScope passes this data through a complex set of algorithms. These codes compare the incoming sounds to established patterns gleaned from hundreds of other patients. If the codes match, the device alerts the practitioner so that they can take a closer look. For instance, when a heart valve doesn’t close properly because of a rough or uneven edge, blood flow turbulence can result. This turbulence is known to produce a murmur, and it makes a very distinctive sound. However, this sound is easy to miss, and doctors may have to listen for several minutes to be sure that they’re hearing it. The ViScope, on the other hand, can analyze the sound as soon as it is detected and compare it to thousands of other sounds.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the ViScope in action.
The ViScope comes with powerful software that allows doctors to save a patient’s heart sounds for later review. The software can upload these sound clips to a patient’s electronic health record, which in turn allows doctors to generate comprehensive reports at any time. By transferring the device’s output to a laptop, doctors can then zoom on the individual waveforms for deeper analysis.
The ViScope is a powerful device that promises to provide a cheaper alternative to costly hand-held ultrasound devices that are under development. The device has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration and is currently undergoing CE certification testing.