Step-by-step guide to use Bluetooth stethoscopes for wireless auscultation
For the Eko CORE Digital Attachment: Connect your existing stethoscope's chestpiece to the CORE Digital Attachment. View our detailed assembly instructions.
For the 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope: The 3M Littmann CORE Digital Stethoscope provides wireless functionality utilizing Bluetooth technology. We do not recommend removing the earpieces.
1. Open the free Eko App and pair your Eko device. You'll see that both the CORE and DUO can communicate sounds via Bluetooth to the app without the earpiece and tubing.
2. Connect your headphones to your smartphone or tablet.
3. Access the menu in the Eko App and go to App Settings to toggle on the labeled 'Play from Headphones' button. This enables wireless auscultations from the Eko device to pass through your phone to headphones.
4. Perform wireless auscultation. Eko stethoscopes can be covered with a glove, ultrasound probe cover, or stethoscope sleeve.
Headphone tips and tricks for wireless auscultation
Here are a few tips for successful wireless auscultation using Bluetooth headphones with the Eko CORE and DUO:
- Start with the volume turned up to the highest setting and adjust from there.
- Make sure that your headphones have a solid and secure ear fit. See your headphone packaging for instructions.
- Enable the active noise cancellation (CORE only). Not required for DUO.
- Bluetooth ranges anywhere from 6-25 feet depending on the brand and model of the headphone. For the best performance, have minimal obstruction between you and the patient. As soon as you hear crackling or see "weak Bluetooth signal" on the Eko App, move a bit closer or adjust your environment.
- Before bringing wireless auscultation into your workflow, test at home with a friend, roommate, or family member to ensure your setup is reliable.
Why use a wireless stethoscope
Advancements in Bluetooth technology have 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).
- 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.
When to use a wireless stethoscope
- Protection from infectious pathogens: As healthcare workers, emergency departments, and ICUs across the country unite 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, 430 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. View Eko's stethoscope guide for healthcare workers with hearing loss.
- Clinicians with mild hearing loss may not need to use a wireless stethoscope because the combination of amplified sounds and noise cancelling 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.
Stethoscopes for telemedicine
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.
Interested in learning more about how Eko supports telemedicine? Sign up for a demo. We are proud to offer health systems 30 days of complimentary Eko Telehealth access. Learn more about Eko's Telehealth solutions.
Common wireless stethoscope questions
1. Which Eko stethoscopes support wireless auscultation? The CORE Digital Stethoscope, CORE Attachment, and DUO support wireless auscultation with both wired and wireless headphones or Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids connected to your mobile device.
2. 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 can hear clear heart sounds with wireless headphones.
3. Why is the Eko App required for wireless auscultation? The Eko CORE and 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.
4. Will Eko stethoscopes work with PPE and PAPR? 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. Wireless headphones underneath PAPR can seamlessly stream sounds from our devices, through the Eko App, to headphones.
5. 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.
6. 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.