• Jill Ladwig, Thinklabs

One for Medical Education

Learning to auscultate is a challenge for all aspiring doctors. A fundamental part of the physical examination and an important part of the patient experience, auscultation is a fundamental skill in the practice of medicine.

But learning to differentiate specific patterns among the faint sounds that can be heard with a traditional stethoscope is a like trying to identify an accent in a whisper. The challenge is magnified by the fact that, traditionally, the attending physician listens first, points out a sound that he’s hearing, and then asks students to listen to the patient one by one.

The Thinklabs One digital stethoscope revolutionizes the way medicine is taught. A powerful tool for learning the art and science of auscultation, and used in leading medical schools around the country, the One gives educators the freedom to create new ways teach this critical skill.

With a standard 3.5 mm jack, the One connects to almost any audio device, providing a range of options for teaching -- whether live at the patient bedside, in the classroom, or online.

Listening Simultaneously

Connect a headphone splitter to your One and have the student listen on her own headphones while you auscultate, or reverse roles to monitor the student's ability to place the stethoscope correctly and locate sounds.

Connecting to an iPhone, iPad, Surface or other mobile device creates a transformative learning experience. Capture sounds and visualize waveforms (e.g., phonocardiogram) on a Mac or Windows machine to teach using the Thinklabs Stethoscope app, which is available for free on the iTunes app store.

In an article published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, coauthors Elazer Edelman and Brittany Weber, of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, call the electronic stethoscope a “transcendent” teaching tool. They use the One with a speaker at the patient’s bedside; auditory signals are stored and displayed on an electronic tablet for review later.

Group Teaching at the Bedside

Edelman describes how he uses a loudspeaker to project the sounds from his One stethoscope, enabling everyone in the room to hear and understand what the patient is experiencing.

Paul Wallach, professor and associate dean at Augusta University in Georgia (formerly Georgia Regents University), plans to use One in a similar fashion.

“I will use it on teaching rounds, so my students can all listen to the same heart sounds at the same time with me,” he explains. “I’ve had the experience where I hear something, and then the student listens and I’m not sure they’re able to identify the sounds. So listening at the same time is very helpful.”

You can use a videoconferencing system, such as Zoom, to share sounds and screen shots with students. Whether they’re remote, at the bedside, or in a classroom, being able to visualize what they’re listening to will give them a learning advantage.

Educators can use One with a loudspeaker, such as Beats or Jambox, which offer excellent bass response, for live listening with small-to-large groups at the bedside. One enables you to talk about heart and lung sounds while you and your students listen.

The Sound Library Reference

Use Thinklabs One and the Thinklabs Stethoscope app to build a high-quality sound reference library for your students. You can then use the sounds to enhance classroom lectures or build web content.

Sounds can be recorded, captured and visualized for later study. Interesting and unusual patient sounds can be catalogued into an online library. You also can use the sounds to test students’ understanding of auscultation mechanics.

If you don’t want to capture your own sounds, a library of sounds is available on our web site for you to augment your curriculum.

Classroom Teaching

Record sounds using Thinklabs Stethoscope App or TwistedWave on iPad/iPhone or TapeMachine on Android. Then share instantaneously via wifi sharing apps or email with live patients. Or upload sounds to Soundcloud, Dropbox or Google Drive and share with students online from your online collection of sounds.

Students listen via headphones on their own devices, accessing the web via classroom wifi. Again, students can play and replay sounds and access the material later, outside the classroom.

Online Teaching

Record sounds and create a MOOC (massive open online course) so you can teach heart or lung sounds, blood pressure measurement, or any other subject, or exclusively for your own students.


If you’re delving into the rich field of heart sound analysis, One is the tool of choice for capturing and studying sounds. Ongoing research that’s being conducted with the One includes high-altitude pediatric pulmonary fieldwork in Nepal, a comparison of live-versus-remote diagnosis at the University of California, Irvine; and disease investigations by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

Researchers can record sounds with any of the apps we've presented and save them on a mobile device or upload them to a cloud repository. Now you can even capture sounds from far-flung population.

Do serial studies, recording patient progress over time, record artificial heart valves or LVADs over time to find sound signatures for changes or impending failures. Analyze signals using Matlab or other advanced signal processing software.

Join the Ranks of World Class Institutions

One is a favorite among faculty and students at leading medical schools, such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and University of California Los Angeles, and the Mayo Medical School.

Using Thinklabs One is truly transformative. It not only improves the teaching of auscultation, it also can make the teaching of patient care better, and thus improve the experience of clinical medicine.

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