Is the stethoscope dead? If you go into any ER, or doctors office, the familiar vision of the doctor with the while jacket who has a stethoscope slung around their necks is a common site.
Newer technologies are on the horizon that can soon replace this ancient medical tool for listening to the hearts and lungs of their patients. The use of computers, cell phones and apps may soon diagnose more accurately heart problems that a doctor or nurse may miss. The newest data suggests that doctors are not as accurate as they believe when using the Stethoscope and it is not uncommon for problems to be missed using a Steth.
Check out this great article from the Washington Post on the future of the Stethoscope and the new tech that can change healthcare, improve efficiencies as well as improve the diagnostic abilities of doctors with these new digital technologies.
Heart doctors are listening for clues to the future of their stethoscopes
By Lenny Bernstein
The stethoscope is having a crossroads moment. Perhaps more than at any time in its two-century history, this ubiquitous tool of the medical profession is at the center of debate over how medicine should be practiced.
In recent years, the sounds it transmits from the heart, lungs, blood vessels and bowels have been digitized, amplified, filtered and recorded. Four months ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved a stethoscope that can faithfully reproduce those sounds on a cellphone app thousands of miles away or send them directly to an electronic medical record.
Algorithms already exist that can analyze the clues picked up by a stethoscope and offer a possible diagnosis.
But whether all this represents the rebirth of diagnostic possibility or the death rattle of an obsolete device is a subject of spirited discussion in cardiology. The widespread use of echocardiograms and the development of pocket-size ultrasound devices are raising questions about why doctors and others continue to sling earphones and rubber tubing around their necks.