Educators Are Adopting the Electronic Stethoscope for Better Learning

August 10, 2019

Technology is constantly changing the face of modern medicine, and this year, educators are adopting electronic stethoscopes to better teach our next generation of clinicians.

“This is the future of the stethoscope,” said Dr. Grayson Armstrong, a fellow at Harvard Medical School. “The Eko CORE Digital Stethoscope is incredibly versatile. I can use it like a normal analog stethoscope but can easily switch to digital mode, which allows you to record heart and lung sounds, playback these sounds, and upload them to an Electronic Medical Record.”

Armstrong is one of several educators to start using the CORE to teach medical students and physician assistants in clinical settings. The learning potential in such settings is high. A study by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education revealed that real-time instructor feedback during a patient auscultation session can improve students’ diagnostic proficiency by up to 200%. Since traditional stethoscopes are limited when it comes to simultaneous listening, the CORE is proving to be the tool of choice.

Landa Palmer, an Assistant Professor of Nursing at State University of New York at Delhi was thrilled to switch to the CORE, thanks to recent grant funding.

“I am just very excited because it’s going to allow us to more efficiently teach the students. It will be a wonderful tool for the first-year students in clinical,” she said.

In the past, Palmer said students used a two-pronged stethoscope when listening to a patient’s heart, lungs or bowels, so the instructor could listen too. “But the sound is very diluted and you have two people leaning over the patient, which isn’t good.”

With the CORE, students can capture sounds and pass them along to their colleagues. “We can even play back the sound to the class so they can all hear it,” Palmer explained.

The ability to hear those sounds for a second and third time has remarkable real-world results according to a recent study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Researchers found that studying sounds in repetition increased students’ average proficiency from a score of 25 percent to 70 percent.

Dr. Marc Berg, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has ushered the device into teaching scenarios because of the CORE’s sound quality, and because of how useful he finds its features.

“Besides the fact that this is a high quality stethoscope equal to any I’ve used, the power of this device is very clear in teaching. I can record with a single touch important heart sounds and replay them at full fidelity for my students and residents. Another click and I’ve sent this sound file to my colleagues for teaching or clinical care, if I think a murmur has changed.”

Berg has also found that there are still areas of the CORE to explore. For instance, he’s working on honing his phonocardiogram skills, as a result of how detailed the picture is.

“The phonocardiogram is very high fidelity. I’m still working with it and learning to see the subtle nuances in the tracing.”

As more educators make the switch to the CORE, more and more students stand to benefit. The device allows medical and nursing schools to collect a database of sounds that can be accessed by current and future students and instructors, spreading knowledge and expertise far beyond the patient who initially needed care.

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