Need to prove you're human? Doctors can now email your heartbeat using a digital stethoscope and new iPhone App from ThinkLabs. While the ds32a digital stethoscope has been around for years, the recent addition of an iPhone App opens great possibilities for its use. Once an auscultation has been performed, you can look at the digital sound recording on the iPhone (or iPod touch), save it, add notes or photos, and email it. This will allow for doctors to build databases of recordings for each patient and provide them with better care. That sort of innovation isn't exactly cheap: the ds32a retails around $250, the App is $70, and a special jack is required (the recommended one from Belkin costs $70). Yet it's not that far from a traditional stethoscope (~$100 depending on style) and provides a distinct advantage in application. This is the coolest use of a digital stethoscope we've seen in a while, and it's a sign of the coming information revolution that will lead us into Medicine 2.0.
If we want to take advantage of remarkable stem cell treatments, genetic therapies, and nanobots, we're going to need better diagnostics to help guide their applications. That's why the growth in health monitoring is so promising. Right now, digital stethoscopes provide an active means to track patient data over several visits. Eventually, I expect that capability to be included in the vital sign monitoring patches we've seen from Toumaz and WIN. Such health monitors may also be able to contain specialized diagnostics like ultrasound, which have already started to become miniaturized. Doctors will be assisted by software that analyzes the information from these devices to help them treat patients, and they'll probably keep track of everything on their smart phone or tablet computer. There's no doubt, digital data is going to transform the medical profession. Kudos to ThinkLabs for getting on the wagon now.