Good health is a heartbeat away with Stethee—a wireless stethoscope developed by doctors. There’s now a Kickstarter.com campaign (through January 28, 2015) to take the device from the prototype stage into manufacturing. The next generation medical device employs digital technology to see, hear and feel heart sounds. Unlike a wearable wrist device, Stethee monitors a person’s actual heartbeat rather than their pulse. To be medically correct, the heart rate should be monitored as close to the heart as possible. Stethee does just that.
The simple-to-use wireless stethoscope is designed so that it can be understood by just about anyone. When activated, a Stethee emits a color-coded light—green being good to red meaning seek help. The small hand-held device is set close to the heart, pushed down and then released. It can be combined with a Bluetooth headset (for on site monitoring as with a traditional stethoscope) or connected to a mobile app, which allows sharing with medical professionals. Stethee’s connectivity allows the storage of vital information over time (important to those with heart conditions or a family history of heart disease).
Stethee is designed to be included in a household or workplace first aid kit similar to a bandage. “You can use it every day to closely monitor your health, or use it only in cases of emergencies, “ explains Australia-based Dr. Nayyar Hussain, Stethee’s CEO. During an emergency, it can be an indispensable tool that saves precious time. “You can perform CPR, and then use Stethee to send heartbeat or lung sound information to paramedics or to the nearest clinic so they can prepare treatment based on the incoming information,” Hussain says.
It also serves a purpose in less critical situations and empowers people to understand their health/heart better and perhaps save money and time in health care. At each medical consultation, a doctor listens to heart and lungs because this information is indicative of a person’s overall health. “Stethee allows everyone to be able to listen, see and feel a heartbeat in the comfort of their own home, and more importantly it allows us all to finally understand this information,” Hussain contends. Heartbeat health information can be tracked and monitored over time and even be compared to parents or siblings’ results.
Additionally, per Hussain, pregnant women can see and listen to their unborn babies heartbeat in the womb, which can save a late night visit to the doctor when they have concerns. They can also track the heartbeat throughout the pregnancy. The elderly can keep track of their heart performance, asthmatics can use Stethee to track changes in their lung sounds to help detect the onset of an asthma attack. More importantly all this information that is being tracked and stored and for the first time ever can be easily shared with a health professional. Doctors can look at two to three weeks worth of information that a patient has accumulated and this can help with diagnosis, treatment and management.
“Never before have we been able to capture this heartbeat information or lung sounds so easily en masse because there has never been a device for home users that could do this,” explains Hussain. “Stethee can unlock a new stream of research that can potentially redefine what we thought we knew about our hearts.”
Stethee’s development and inception came from Hussain’s experience and response to treating infectious disease patients where listening to their heart and lungs is important, but the risk of contamination is high. “I figured it would be good to be able to give the patient the device to take home or to use and the information could be streamed to my device,” he advises. The next step was to make the device simple to use at home to encourage patients to only go to a doctor or clinic if they could demonstrate that there was a problem.
Sharing the information with the Stethee app will be as easy as sending a text message, Hussain promises, and the device is so simple, “an eight year old can use it,” he writes. The device does not have buttons or menu systems (a potential slowdown in an emergency); it operates via a push down and release motion while the color system is language-agnostic. He summarizes, “Simplicity drove the design of this and by keeping it simple we were able to make it easy to use.”