You’ve probably been to the doctor at least once in your life. During your visit, the nurse likely measured your weight, blood pressure and temperature before you saw the doctor. If you had an issue with your chest, the doctor probably listened to the sounds inside your body, made by various organs such as your lungs and heart, using a stethoscope.
A stethoscope is an acoustic medical device made for the specific purpose of listening to the internal sounds of a human or animal body. Used by every doctor or health practitioner, the stethoscope is a cost-effective tool that helps in making a diagnosis. However, these tools are subject to environmental noises, which may make it harder to accurately give a diagnosis on lung abnormalities such as the coronavirus by listening to the sounds in a patient’s body.
To help with this, James West from the Johns Hopkins University is currently developing a digital stethoscope that incorporates artificial intelligence, which will improve lung diagnoses significantly. West discussed the obstacles and opportunities of the digital stethoscope during the 179th ASA Meeting, which was held virtually Dec. 7–10.
West’s presentation, which was a keynote lecture in the Acoustical Society of America agenda was presented on Dec. 7 and centered on the digital stethoscope’s ability to actively suppress noise while automatically detecting any abnormalities in lung sounds.
The digital stethoscope is especially useful for health-care workers who work in noisy clinics or areas that are highly populated. The device is also handy for use in at-home testing for patients with chronic respiratory infections. The device may also be useful in helping physicians maintain social distancing while decreasing their exposure to the coronavirus by allowing recordings taken by the device to be shared virtually with a care team in another room.
West explained that the device can telemeter recordings to health-care practitioners, which ensures that clinical support can be provided in areas that may need additional medical support or places that are hard to reach.
In addition to taking recordings, the digital stethoscope also has a noise suppression feature, as mentioned above, which helps magnify the lungs auditory signal thus easing the process of making a diagnosis. West observed that noise suppression is an important feature as it allows the device to be used even in challenging clinic environments. The feature runs automatically on the stethoscope and provides clear body sounds.
Furthermore, no training is needed in order to operate the device. The device will be distributed to the field once its algorithm has been improved further.
Many other biopharm companies are hard at work finding solutions to a variety of health challenges. For example, New York City-headquartered AzurRx BioPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX) has devoted all its energies to developing drugs aimed at treating gastrointestinal tract diseases.
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