Dr. Andrew Lin and Dr. Hon Weng Chong have pioneered a new diagnostic device: the smartphone stethoscope. The team’s device, the StethoCloud, allows physicians and parents alike to diagnose pulmonary illnesses like pneumonia.
In 2012, the doctors entered their prototype in the Microsoft Australian Image Cup—and won first place. The StethoCloud has come a long way since then, and now is a full-featured iPhone app. The pair’s first prototype was built in Dr. Lin’s garage from used gaskets and stethoscope parts. The team believes that their device can help doctors make better decisions in the field.
The StethoCloud allows medical personnel to take readings from patients and then store that data securely in the cloud. The end result of this marriage of technology is that doctors save time, money and lives
The team chose the stethoscope as the basis of their first product because, according to Dr. Lin, the information that the device provides is “extremely rich.” With a stethoscope, a well-trained doctor can detect problems in organs such as the liver, lungs and of course, the heart.
Significance of Home Use
The company aims to market the device to young mothers first. New parents tend to overreact to the colds and repertory infections that can occur in their child’s first few years. This can translate into high medical bills. In cases in which a child has a chronic repertory illness such as asthma, the device will prove especially helpful. According to the World Health Organization, one in 12 people in the U.S. live with asthma. In 2001, only 1 in 14 people had the condition.
The StethoCloud takes inexperienced parents through a step-by-step process to determine whether or not they should call their doctor or take the child to the ER. According to a study published in PLOs One, a visit to the ER costs more than an average month’s rent. Naturally, the app will also prove extremely useful in developing countries in which the nearest medical care is several miles away.
Ease of Use
According to the World Health Organization, one if five childhood deaths are caused by pneumonia. Pneumonia is an extremely complex illness because bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause it. This means that pneumonia is typically only diagnosed after the onset of symptoms, which can prove fatal. StethoCloud utilizes complex algorithms to determine whether lung irritation and altered breathing patterns are due to the illness.
The device’s “stethomic” microscope plugs directly into a compatible smartphone. The StethoCloud app then uploads incoming body sounds to the cloud, where powerful algorithms analyzes the data. The simple interface consists of a diagram of the upper torso and several green circles. The circles indicate areas where the operator should apply the stethoscope. The app itself uses data provided by the World Health Organization to identify breath patterns associated with pneumonia. The StethoCloud is expected to retail at only $20.