Technology Puts Physician into National Spotlight

Posted: July 16, 2020

The humble stethoscope, a commonplace tool in medical settings, has gone high-tech and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the upgrade could be a lifesaver for patients and doctors increasingly connecting digitally via telemedicine.

One familiar face is on the forefront of delivering the message of the importance of telemedicine in the wake of the pandemic. Caesar Djavaherian, M.D., co-founder and medical director of Carbon Health and an emergency medicine physician with NorthBay Healthcare, has been featured in some recent online interviews aimed at explaining the importance of telemedicine and demonstrating a device called the Duo, a gadget created by Berkeley-based startup EKO, which looks like a small television remote but can take an electrocardiogram. The patient holds the device on their chest, it records heart sounds and electrical signals and sends the data to a mobile app that displays the recordings in real-time. A doctor can save, replay and share the information. And the device also allows the physician to listen to the patient’s lungs.

In an online demonstration and discussion with Wall Street Journal Science Editor Daniela Hernandez, Dr. Djavaherian was able to listen to her heart and lungs and see her electrocardiogram as they chatted in real time.

Dr. Djavaherian said he’s been using the device in the ED and urgent care to augment the heart sound as well as to get the device’s read on whether the patient has a dangerous murmur.

And it isn’t the only tech upgrade of medical tools being developed. “More devices are under development that will allow their providers to extend and broaden their ability to examine and diagnose patients in their homes,” he said. “Connected stethoscopes, otoscopes, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and single lead EKGs will allow providers to do more without forcing patients to come into clinics.”

The Wall Street Journal discussion isn’t the only place Dr. Djavaherian has been busy answering questions on the future of telemedicine in the wake of the pandemic.

In a Facebook Live chat with WIRED Magazine editor in chief, Nicholas Thompson, he explained there is a lot of work physicians can do online, outside of the clinic setting, adding that telemedicine can range from taking care of patient needs via telephone to video interactions, remote stethoscopes and at-home products such as digitally connected blood pressure cuffs and scales.

He also had advice on when to use telemedicine and when not to. “I think we shouldn’t try to fit a clinical scenario into the telemedicine box and just try to use telemedicine because it’s there or because we want to,” he said. “The health care system is incredibly complex, and the number of different patient presentations is incredibly diverse. We should use telemedicine in areas where telemedicine works and is effective and can resolve a patient’s problems with the same clinical standards as an in-person visit. But then there are instances where having a patient come into the clinic or into the hospital is more appropriate.”

To watch the Wall Street Journal discussion visit: https://www.wsj.com/video/events/demo-tech-to-spot-covid-19/9EE36C1C-F570-4E25-82C0-E2DCE78EF5C6.html.

For a transcript of the WIRED interview, visit: https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-future-telemedicine/.

 

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