Is this the end of the traditional stethoscope?

Posted on August 17, 2020 by Jonathan Symcox

Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi is not your typical GP. 

The 39-year-old is known to his 4,000+ followers on Twitter as @drgandalf52 and he describes himself as a ‘GP with the intellect & geeky style of a time lord & the magic, presence & beard of Gandalf’. 

He works as a GP and trainer in Nottingham’s Wellspring Surgery and is passionate about tech and how it can improve patient care. 

He is also the owner of the tech platform eGPlearing, which he uses to explain new tech to his audience of mainly medical professionals. 

For the past month he’s been testing the new Eko CORE digital stethoscope, which he says could have massive benefits in the wake of COVID-19 and the tragedy that took place in our care homes. 

Explaining his background, Dr Gandhi said: “I love tech and explaining it. A lot of people find it intimidating so explaining it in a language that people can understand can be really useful. 

“I don’t know how to code and that kind of thing but I come at it from the perspective of the user and how we can improve patient care.” 

It was against this backdrop that he agreed to test the Eko CORE in much the same way as Top Gear’s presenters puts the latest cars through their paces and he described the result as a ‘revolution’. 

Unlike traditional stethoscopes, which allow a clinician to listen to a patients internal sounds, the Eko’s tech not only enhances the sound but allows you to record and share the information. The more expensive Eko DUO ECG can also carry out an ECG of a patient’s heart. 

“It’s a game-changer especially in relation to remote care,” said Dr Gandhi. “For example it could be used in a care home environment. A member of the home’s clinical support staff could attach the Eko to the patient and the doctor could listen to the sounds in real-time without having to visit the care home.” 

Explaining how the Eko CORE works he said: “I’ve had my traditional stethoscope for 15 years and it still does a job. The difference with the Eko is it uses noise cancelling technology to amplify the sound that you hear. 

“The best way to describe it is like going from watching standard definition TV to watching HDTV. It enhances the purity and sound quality.” 

However Dr Gandhi said that the benefits of the Eko device go far beyond a better sound quality. The Eko’s four key selling points are to amplify sound, visualise; save; and share. 

“The problem with the normal stethoscope is it’s impossible to share with someone else,” he said. “There’s no way of recording it and sending the sound. Because of the bluetooth attachment, the Eko allows you to do that.”  

The UK supplier is Preston-based Redmoor Health. There are three options available; the Eko CORE digital attachment; Eko CORE digital stethoscope; and Eko DUO ECG and digital stethoscope. 

Nearly 30,000 care home residents in England and Wales died during the coronavirus outbreak than during the same period in 2019 and Dr Gandhi said the Eko would assist remote care going forward. 

“COVID-19 changed our approach to technology and our attitude to remote care,” he said. “With the right training the Eko CORE digital stethoscope could be used in a care home without the doctor having to visit and the patient having to go to the surgery. It’s all about using technology to improve patient outcomes.” 

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