08.02.2019 change 08.02.2019

Experts from Poznań develop the world`s first smart stethoscope

Source: StethoMe press materials Source: StethoMe press materials

Doctors and scientists from Poznań have developed the world`s first smart stethoscope for respiratory system control, currently being tested in 20 centres in 10 countries around the world, StethoMe representatives announced during a press briefing in Warsaw.

The device is intended for home use by patients. "A new generation stethoscope that can improve basic medical care is ready, but its marketing in Poland and abroad is expected in 2020" - said Wojciech Radomski from the start-up StethoMe (also the name of the device).

According to the specialist, there is no other such device in the market. "There are two similar stethoscopes in the United States, but their operation is limited to transmitting recorded sounds to doctors who evaluate them. The Polish device is equipped with artificial intelligence and makes the initial assessment, but the physician makes the final diagnosis" - explained the representative of StethoMe.

The Polish device presented to journalists is small and fits in the palm of your hand. Just like traditional stethoscopes, it is used to assess the functioning of the respiratory system of children and adults, but the difference is that it records, identifies and classifies recorded sounds.

It is connected to a mobile application that tells the user in which places on the chest to place the device during the test. It also informs whether everything runs correctly. The applications also has the option to enter alarming symptoms, such as coughing and runny nose.

After completing the test, the user receives an assessment of whether any abnormalities have occurred, and if yes, the application suggests consulting a doctor. In turn, the doctor receives a test record both in the form of sound and graphic image, which is designed to facilitate the final diagnosis. The device also shows the locations of wheezing noises and rales.

The creators of the smart stethoscope claim that it recognizes over 12,000. sounds and it is still learning. "Tests have shown that its lung assessments are 8 percentage points better than the assessments made by doctors" - said Wojciech Radomski. But a physician still decides on the final diagnosis.

The President of Warsaw Family Physicians, Dr. Michał Sutkowski said that the smart stethoscope can contribute to the further development of telemedicine, facilitating the work of primary care physicians. "A preliminary assessment of the functioning of the respiratory system of a small child can calm the child`s parents that nothing serious is happening, and significantly reduce the number of unnecessary appointments - and there are a lot of them" - he added.

According to Radomski, up to 80 percent doctor`s appointments are not necessary because many patients report with minor problems. Dr. Sutkowski said that an average family doctor sees 2.3 thousand patients every year, often 60 to 80 people a day. In total, basic health care accounts for 100 million medical appointments per year, and young children are frequent patients.

According to the data presented during the meeting with journalists, an average child has eight colds per year. There are 5.8 million children below the age of 14 in our country, which means that every year, 46 million cases of cold in children require monitoring, because some may lead to pneumonia.

According to Dr. Sutkowski, in the future a smart stethoscope, as a device intended for initial diagnosis of lung condition, should be in every home, just like a thermometer. "From the point of view of primary care it would make the most sense" - he emphasised.

Wojciech Radomski said that for now the next generation stethoscope will be offered in Poland by private health care centres as part of medical care packages. "It is also an advantage for such a facility, considering the number of medical appointments that are unnecessary" - he argued.

The device is being tested and improved by over 50 doctors in Poland, the UK, Sweden, Greece, Mexico, Italy, Portugal, Germany and India.

Work on the smart stethoscope is co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development and the European Regional Development Fund.

PAP - Science in Poland, Zbigniew Wojtasiński

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