Since your very first doctor visit, you have identified doctors by their white coats and the stethoscope they wear around their neck. Odds are, you wanted to know what your heartbeat sounded like and if you were lucky, the doctor let you use his stethoscope to listen. Not only does this device remain essential to medical practice, it has evolved just like all technology.
The electronic stethoscope is one of the diagnostic devices included in our state-of-the art Telemedicine cart. It improves on the sound level of acoustic stethoscopes, which is extremely low. It does this by electronically amplifying body sounds, like the heartbeat, resulting in optimal listening. Those sounds can then be digitized, encoded and decoded. Ambient noise can be reduced or eliminated. Sound can be transmitted via speakers, headphones or even wireless transmission. Some models can even record sound clips.
Most electronic stethoscopes can transmit an audio output signal, in real time, to an accompanying software application. Once analyzed, that content can then be saved as files and e-mailed. Other electronic stethoscopes can be hooked up to a videoconferencing unit’s audio input, which means the sound can again be sent in real time, but over a networking connection to another videoconferencing unit.
This videoconferencing technology happens to be another service available through telemedicine. Participants in the transmission should be able to see and speak to one another. However, the quality of the video session may suffer. Users may also have to establish a separate channel of communication because only one type of audio transmission may be allowed at a time. With some stethoscopes, a visual display of the heart rate and EKG waves can be found on the device itself.
In this digital age, there are also electronic stethoscopes known as “digitizing stethoscopes”. They convert audio sound to a digital signal, which can then be shared in real time or asynchronously, via a USB or similar device. Again, the sound can then be transmitted through accompanying software or over a network, through a videoconferencing unit.
Did you know there’s a stethoscope that allows medical professionals here on Earth to listen to astronauts’ heartbeats in space? It was invented in 2011. While we don’t offer that one, we certainly have your options covered for any earthly scenario. If you are interested in learning more about our Telemedicine cart and other services, please contact us here.