An increasing number of health care tasks can be done at home because basic medical devices–many times linked to smartphones–are becoming consumer products. Take the CliniCloud, a new digital stethoscope and no-contact thermometer kit. It lets parents take professional readings from their kids and interact with doctors in new ways without leaving the house.
“Having these kinds of tools lets patients know more about themselves,” says Andrew Lin, co-founder of CliniCloud. “It’s not just going to WebMD and looking up what’s wrong with them. It’s actual clinical information they can engage their physicians with.”
The no-contact thermometer is a small rectangular block that you point at a child’s forehead, using a guiding light to find the optimal position. Via Bluetooth, it sends a temperature reading to an accompanying app.
The stethoscope is more interesting. A round disc linked to a phone with a cord, it records a sound file from a patient’s chest and creates a history on the phone. Parents can then interpret the sound themselves to get a sense of whether they should be getting professional attention. A whistling sound, for example, might indicate an asthma flare-up; a crackling noise would point to pneumonia.
“Previously we’ve just had audio chat or video chat, says Lin, himself a doctor. “Now you have the audio to go with that. It makes the doctor more helpful and the consumer more useful.”
Lin founded CliniCloud with his fellow doctor friend Hon Weng Chong. The devices are available for pre-ordering now (price $109) with shipping due for July.
They hope the thermometer and stethoscope will be the first of many products. “I see more health care being delivered at home where it’s lowest cost and convenient. But for that to happen we’ll need other devices,” says Lin. “These are the two most basic diagnostic tools, but there are others that measure vitals like urine and blood as well.”