Two weeks ago, we reported how West Wireless Health Institute CMO Dr. Eric Topol said that the handheld ultrasound should and would make the stethoscope obsolete. Well, reports of the stethoscope's death have been greatly exaggerated. But not reports of it going high-tech.
Popular Science magazine has named the Bluetooth-enabled 3M Electronic Stethoscope 3200 and companion Cardioscan software its "Innovation of the Year" for its ability to detect heart murmurs. The product, an $11 million joint effort of 3M Health Care and Cardis Medical, picks up sound waves--just as stethoscopes have done for nearly two centuries--and transmits the sounds wirelessly to a nearby computer. The software then analyzes the sounds in a matter of seconds and plots the waves on a chart to highlight any abnormalities. Sound files and graphs can be emailed between doctors and saved to medical records.
The magazine says the device could eliminate 8 million unnecessary EKG tests and cardiologist visits annually, saving $9.4 billion, not to mention untold lives.