How to use Bluetooth Stethoscopes for Wireless Auscultation
March 26, 2020
Why use a Wireless Stethoscope
Advancements in Bluetooth technology has made it possible for stethoscopes to go wireless so clinicians can auscultate patients without listening through traditional stethoscope earpieces. There are important advantages to wireless auscultation that help clinicians in different settings:
- To help protect healthcare providers from infectious pathogens, wireless stethoscopes enable clinicians to evaluate patients from a greater distance and keep the stethoscope components behind personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect themselves.
- Clinicians with hearing loss can use wireless stethoscopes to pair with their Bluetooth enabled hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other listening devices.
- Wireless stethoscopes support telemedicine live streaming, where clinicians can share auscultations anywhere in the world in real-time.
How Wireless Stethoscopes Work
Eko stethoscopes use Bluetooth to pair with smartphones and tablets through the Eko App (available on iOS and Android). Through the Eko App, clinicians can listen to, visualize, and share auscultations of the same quality as if they were listening directly through stethoscope earpieces. For best sound quality, we recommend that you plug in or pair wireless headphones to your phone to listen to auscultations. With wireless stethoscope technology, clinicians can place a stethoscope chestpiece on a patient, and then the sound will travel through the Eko app to headphones.
Shop wireless stethoscopes
- Remove the stethoscope ear tubing by either unscrewing the barb/tubing from the bottom of the CORE or pulling the ear tubing off of the barb, leaving the CORE attached to the chestpiece.
- Open the free Eko App and pair your Eko stethoscope. You can see that both the CORE and DUO can communicate sounds via Bluetooth to the app without the earpiece and tubing.
- Connect your headphones to your smartphone or tablet. For best sound quality, we recommend wired headphones for best sound quality; however, wireless headphones such as Apple AirPods work great with iPhone 5s and newer.
- Access your settings panel of the Eko App and toggle on the labeled ‘Play from iPhone’ or ‘Play from Phone’ button. This enables wireless auscultations to pass through your phone to headphones.
- Perform wireless auscultation. Eko stethoscopes can be covered with a glove, ultrasound probe cover, or stethoscope sleeve.
Protection from Infectious Pathogens
As healthcare workers, emergency departments and ICUs across the country unite together in response to COVID-19, wireless stethoscopes can help to reduce personal exposure while powering a clear listening experience.
- In-Hospital/ICU: Wireless stethoscopes unshackle auscultation from your ears by digitizing and transmitting patient sounds to wherever the healthcare worker needs to be. Frontline providers can listen to patient heart and lung sounds from a safe distance. Clinicians wearing isolation gowns or face shields can auscultate using a wireless stethoscope, a Bluetooth transmitter such as a mobile app and wireless or wired headphones without having to expose themselves to pathogens.
- Telemedicine: Clinicians can quickly connect with specialists to assess patients with COVID-19 symptoms, maintain isolation protocols, and save costs by minimizing transportation. Wireless stethoscopes can be used by a patient in their home to receive a cardiopulmonary exam from a specialist. This helps reduce the unnecessary risk of exposure by staying away from crowded medical offices and public infrastructure.
Stethoscopes for Clinicians with Hearing Loss
According to the World Health Organization, over 466 million people have disabling hearing loss, while an even greater number suffer from mild hearing loss. The strongest predictor of hearing loss is age; as adults get older, our hearing gets worse, especially for low-frequency heart sounds. Eko stethoscopes help clinicians experiencing hearing loss with amplification and noise cancellation, and compatibility with hearing aids. This allows heart and lung auscultations to sound clear.
- Clinicians with mild hearing loss may not need to use a wireless stethoscope because the combination of amplified sounds and noise-canceling is sufficient for clear auscultation.
- Clinicians with hearing aids choose to put the stethoscope in their ears on top of hearing aids or remove their hearing aids before performing auscultation.
- Clinicians with Bluetooth enabled hearing aids, cochlear implants or, streaming devices can connect wireless stethoscopes through Bluetooth. The Eko CORE pairs with the Eko App, and then Bluetooth hearing aids pair with the mobile phone.
Eko is beta testing wireless connections to hearing aids and cochlear implants, so please contact email@example.com with additional questions.
Telemedicine and Wireless Stethoscopes
The ability to auscultate wirelessly is a vital part of any health system's telemedicine solution. Here are the essential elements of how stethoscopes are used in telemedicine.
- Enables telehealth providers to listen to lung and heart sounds with confidence and analyze a rhythm strip for potentially life-threatening arrhythmias.
- Can be used for clinician-to-clinician or clinician-to-patient telemedicine exams.
- Works alongside existing video conferencing platforms a health system already has in place for video visits.
- What Eko stethoscopes support wireless auscultations?
The CORE Digital Stethoscope & Attachment support wireless auscultation with both wired and wireless headphones or Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids connected to your mobile device.
- Why are headphones needed for wireless auscultation?
External phone, tablet, and, computer speakers are optimized to filter human voices, which are high-frequency sounds. Heart sounds are low-frequency and require quality headphones that support bass for a clinician to be able to auscultate properly. Wired headphones are the universal solution for best sound quality; however, clinicians with newer iPhones and AirPods can hear clear heart sounds.
- Why is the Eko App required for wireless auscultation?
The Eko CORE & DUO stethoscopes are designed to pair with the Eko App to support the primary functions of visualizing, recording, analyzing, and sharing auscultations. Eko stethoscopes do not support simultaneous Bluetooth connections today, so the configuration requires that the stethoscope connects with the phone, then the phone connects with headphones.
- Will Eko stethoscopes work with PPE?
For both infectious and non-infectious scenarios, the stethoscope can be placed in a disposable glove or plastic sleeve without any interruption to auscultation power.
- Where does the iOS/Android device need to be located for wireless auscultation?
For devices used in infectious disease areas, cover in PPE and/or place it in your pocket underneath your PPE. For devices used outside of infectious disease areas, these devices can be held by the healthcare worker or placed on a stand/cart.
- What is Live Playback?
Live Playback is the feature in the Eko App that allows auscultations to be streamed through the phone in real-time (wireless auscultation). Live Playback can be activated in the settings menu of the Eko App by toggling on “Play from iPhone” or “Play from Phone”. Learn more about enabling Live Playback in our Support Portal.
- What is the difference between Live Playback and Telemedicine Live Streaming?
Live Playback works with both the app closed (background mode) and the app open while the device is located within a few feet of the stethoscope.
Telemedicine Live Streaming is an Eko Enterprise tool that enables real-time auscultations anywhere in the world.
- What types of hearing aids work for wireless auscultation?
Eko is currently beta testing streaming wirelessly to Bluetooth enabled hearing aids and cochlear implants. Customers with newer iPhones that sync with their hearing aids report a seamless workflow. Alternatively, the Eko App can connect to a hearing aid streamer, Bluetooth assistant, or Mini Mic, to pair with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Eko partners with the AMPHL to help test our products with different hearing aids. We recommend working with an audiologist to optimize your hearing aid channels for stethoscope wireless streaming. For additional support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How do I clean an Eko wireless stethoscope?
All stethoscopes should be cleaned between each patient use. All external parts of the hardware can be cleaned with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes. DO NOT immerse the devices in any liquid or subject it to any high-pressure/autoclave sterilization processes.