Doctors have always relied on the stethoscope to diagnose common conditions, from asthma and pneumonia to the common cold. The modern stethoscope has become a symbol of being a physician. However, the technology is still basically the same as the 19th century French invention of putting a wooden tube to the patient’s body to augment sounds.
In the day of portable ultrasound and cloud storage, the stethoscope cannot be used to diagnose a patient remotely, or compare records over time. It was high time to bring it to the digital age.
A digital stethoscope for a digital age
A few years ago, I met Hon Weng Chong, a physician in Melbourne, who described a fantastic idea to me. He grew up in the digital world but the devices he had to work with as an aspiring physician were analogue. He decided to change this, and prototyped the first digital stethoscope. The genius of his approach was creating a really simple, portable device that can be paired with a smartphone application. CliniCloud was launched in 2016.
I was among the first people to test it. Let’s see how it looks!
Unboxing the Clinicloud
It comes in a neat blue package which contains the digital stethoscope, the cable connecting the device and the smartphone; and a non-contact thermometer.
- CliniCloud’s thermometer takes temperature readings instantly with no skin contact required. Users don’t have to wake a child while measuring their body temperature, and the measurement only takes a few seconds.
- The stethoscope helps listen to the heart or the lung and also measures heart rate. It’s crucial where you place the device – fortunately, the app guides you through either a quick or full check-up. With these intuitive prompts, anyone can use CliniCloud without prior training.
CliniCloud integrates recordings from the two devices and brings them together in one application (available both on iOS and Android). You can store these readings on your phone or a secure cloud server, and show them easily to a clinician or patient. The app also provides metrics such as respiratory rate and heart rate to help you see if anything is out of the ordinary.
You can review health status over time, which includes vitals such as temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate, as well as qualitative metrics and notes, to help you identify health trends.
You can manage your family’s health from a single app, by creating multiple accounts. You can even give temporary access to doctors and other caregivers. Clinicloud also integrated the Doctor On Demand service, so users can video chat with a physician and for the first time, get heart and lung sounds examined whenever they need, as if they were face to face with their doctor.
If you’re a patient, Clinicloud’s digital health kit can help you track your respiratory and cardiac health, as well as those of your children or elder relatives. If you’re a doctor who is on the road frequently, a GP who sees patients several times a year or a pulmonologist, the digital stethoscope can help you compare a patient’s readings before, during, and even years after therapy.