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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Doctors Check Heartbeat With iPhone App

Lea Jakobiak, Sky News Online

Doctors are ditching their stethoscopes in favour of an iPhone app that allows them to listen to their patients' heartbeats.

i-phone app is replacing stethoscope

New app iStethoscope could save lives according to its creator Peter Bentley

The iStethoscope, which has been downloaded three million times in the UK, uses an inbuilt microphone to monitor cardiac activity.

The user holds the iPhone against the chest, then shakes it to bring up a graphic which represents their heartbeat.

It is also possible to play back the last eight seconds of the recording.

According to creator Peter Bentley, researcher at University College London, "smartphones are capable of saving lives, saving money and improving healthcare in a dramatic fashion".

Mr Bentley claims that in future they could turn into "fully fledged integrated designs capable of taking ultra sound scanners or monitor a patient's blood pressure".

The iPhone app comes at 59p but is currently available as a free version which is being downloaded at the rate of 500 apps a day.

Stethoscope being replaced by i-phone app

The iconic medical device could be replaced by the new iPhone app

Dr Tim Ringrose, medical director at doctors.net.uk, has mixed feelings about the iStethoscope.

He said: "I find it very interesting but don't think it is ready to replace the stethoscope just yet.

"The best thing about it is that it helps doctors explain what the sounds means to their patients in an easy way, as the graphic makes it clear.

"Another positive aspect is that patients can record their heartbeat when they are not with their doctors and then show it to them if they have any concerns.

"However, it doesn't do all things a stethoscope does. It seems to have difficulties picking up breath sounds which means it could be difficult to detect lung diseases such as pneumonia."

There are 6,000 further apps related to medicine, and more than 80% of doctors said they expected to own a smartphone by 2012.