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"When I was designing One, Telemedicine was front
and center of my thinking.
If we are to fix healthcare, Telemedicine must surely be one of the technologies that will reduce costs and bring access to all 8 billion of us on this 'Blue Marble'. For those of you involved in Telemedicine already and for those contemplating a project, this NASA satellite imagery is hopefully inspiration to us all to figure out how to communicate medically and meaningfully across this spectacular planet.
Telemedicine is in its early stages, but One is designed to make remote auscultation simple and powerful."
- Clive Smith
If you are using a lower cost system with audio compression,
we recommend that you record the sounds and send
them via email or instant messaging app attachments,
rather than using the live audio connection.
See expanded discussion below.
Thinklabs stethoscopes have been used in telemedicine for many years, selected for their outstanding sound quality and simple connectivity. Thinklabs One and Thinklink connect to almost any communications platform - PCs, Macs, iPads, Cisco telepresence systems and mobile devices.
We believe in open systems. The direct analog audio output allows One to be used as a simple external microphone for any system. No special software, no API needed.
The challenge, however, is that most videoconferencing systems perform audio compression that reduces the audio quality of heart sounds, and to a lesser extent, lung sounds. If you are using a high-end system with excellent audio quality, One can be connected for live auscultation and we've seen this done for Cisco Telepresence, to use one example.
Our observation is that, rather than this being an inconvenience, it actually offers benefits. Staff can capture a set of good sound recordings, send them or place them in the record, ready and available to the physician during the teleconference. This is often more convenient than live auscultation, with heart and lung sounds done ahead of time just like blood pressure, weight and other vitals.
Using One in a telemedicine application is easy - simply use Thinklink to connect One to a microphone or line input on your system and assign the microphone source to the input being used. As long as your teleconferencing system can accept an external analog sound source, such as external microphone, you can connect One directly. One can even be used as a microphone when not on the body if you set one filter mode
for wideband voice communication.
Images by NASA -
Further Thoughts - Clive Smith's Take
Telemedicine is a work-in-progress. The above discussion and advice notwithstanding, platforms are rapidly evolving. I would like to see the easy-to-use, low cost services provide a way to switch the audio transmission into "auscultation mode" so that audio can be transmitted uncompressed in real time. Heart and lung sounds are quite low frequency so it should be easy to do this without blowing away too much bandwidth.
So it would be great to see Apple's Facetime, Skype and others address this audio problem. Vsee has been working in the telemedicine space. Adding this audio mode would complement their already excellent video quality.
If you need to use a low-cost provider or something freely available on mobile platforms, keep in mind my "work-in-progress" comment. Google this subject and check my take on this topic. I'm hoping you find a solution and please let me know if you do.