Technology revolution in stethoscope science creating additional revenues for manufacturers – e-steth digital stethoscope

Technology revolution in stethoscope science creating additional revenues for manufacturers – e-steth digital stethoscope – Brief Article

In what’s being called the first real application of modern technology to a device that has remained virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1819, the beginning of a new generation of stethoscopes has marketers looking forward to a healthy new revenue source.

In early January 2001, e-med innovations inc., Dallas, introduced its e-steth[TM] digital stethoscope that, when mated to the company’s CardioMail[TM] visualization software, is said not only to allow physicians to hear heart and lung sounds with unprecedented clarity but to save and record those sounds to computer disc.

The announcement came just weeks after Cyber-Care Inc., Boynton Beach, Fla., received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its new electronic stethoscope that attaches to its Electronic HouseCall System (ECHS) for patient monitoring.

Earlier in December 2000, Agilent Technologies’ Healthcare Solutions Group touted its new Stethos[TM] electronic stethoscope, and at the same time noted that its marketing would be conducted primarily through Internet efforts (see Health Industry Today, January 2001).

Within the health care industry, the reliance of electronic marketing as a single-source sales tool marked a departure from traditional channels as radical as the device itself.

And so the ubiquitous stethoscope, one of the most venerable symbols of health care and a staple of physicians everywhere, is undergoing changes providers are convinced will improve quality of care while prompting marketers to hope the beat goes on.

“The market has nearly unlimited potential since the stethoscope is used in so many places by so many providers for so many uses,” said an Agilent spokesperson.

To reach that potential, the trio of companies is hoping to raise the heartbeat of an emerging marketplace made possible by a blending of old with 21st century new.

Adding to the competition

While admitting that physicians initially may be hesitant to adopt new technology, Richard Lee, M.D., a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said eventual acceptance is a given.

“There are always new technologies,” he said. “But I think this is one that will eventually replace the old.”

Among the companies pushing new products, the ante for stethoscope sales swung significantly upwards.

Cyber-Care says its new stethoscope is “a tool with several technological advantages over current industry offerings.”

The company’s electronic stethoscope connects to its ECHS and was designed for chronically ill patients and their caregivers as a means of two-way communication.

Primary among the advantages of the device, says the company, is its status as the only packet network-based stethoscope on the market today.

Packet technology is said to benefit systems users by transmitting data received from the stethoscope along with voice and visual information simultaneously.

Providers can then measure results from the stethoscope, and other monitoring tools made available by the company, against historical data for the purpose of delivering better care and more effective disease management treatment.

Mike Lemnitzer, VP of business development of Cyber-Care, said FDA clearance for the stethoscope “enhances our product and raises the bar on such offerings in the telehealth marketplace.”

It also, continued Lemnitzer, expands the company’s horizons for future innovations in the telehealth marketplace.

Another company heard from

E-med innovations says the quality of sound produced by its e-steth is so clear doctors can tell the difference between heart sounds and lung sounds–a major problem for doctors using stethoscopes for more than 150 years.

“The sound quality is so pure, physicians can hear the difference even over the Internet,” says Jean-Pierre Arnaudo, e-med innovations president.

E-steth tunes in selectively to cardiac and pulmonary sounds. A physician can select an organ for examination and can listen to it without interference from neighboring organs.

The company says its device also detects sounds that are barely audible–or inaudible–using conventional instruments such as aortic regurgitation, pericardial friction rub and pleural rub.

But sound clarity is only one of the advantages being promoted by e-med. The second is the ability of the device to “save and record” heart and lung readings.

“For example,” says Arnaudo, “a patient can record their heartbeat into the e-steth and then send it to his or her physician.”

That ability is said to benefit physicians in terms of medical liability since heart and lung readings can be saved for future reference.

E-steth sounds can be recorded, saved and compared to older readings and then printed, faxed and /or sent via e-mail or over the Internet via the company’s CardioMail software.

E-med says its e-steth is the original digital stethoscope, designed in France two years ago by a company named IRIS. E-med completed its acquisition of IRIS in October 2000. There are 7,000 e-steth units in use by general practices and cardiology units in Europe.

* www.cyber-care.net

www.e-medsounds.com

COPYRIGHT 2001 J.B. Lippincott Company

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group