Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remote Stethoscope

The heart of the matter sets the pace for new understandings, future progress


“We came down here, to Guatemala, about a week ago with a prototype of our remote stethoscope and a whole bunch of unanswered questions.” Jeremy Koehler sat on the steps of a hostel in Antigua, juggling a doll in one hand and the prototype in the other.

As we reported on
LabLog, before their trip, the M-HEAL team had no real idea what they would encounter on their exploratory mission to Guatemala. All they knew for certain was that each year, nearly 1,600 Guatemalan babies are born with congenital heart defects. 

They also understood that many of these babies are born in rural areas; places a potentially life-saving diagnosis might be impossible to make in time to prevent serious complications. Some of the villages that the team visited didn’t even have a traditional stethoscope available, let alone one that could remotely transmit heart sounds to doctors in Guatemala City.

Upon their arrival, we followed them every step of they way on tumblr with Marcin Szczepanski, the College of Engineering’s Communications and Marketing Multimedia Producer, as an embedded journalist.

And here on LabLog we highlighted the moment when any question challenging the validity of their intentions was laid to rest.

A week after their trip began, the group was gathered outside of a well-known hostel located in Antigua called the Black Cat Inn. To get to this point, they had already braved rough roads, visits to clinics that are about two miles above sea level, sickness, and perhaps the most difficult divide to traverse - cultural differences.

On the hostel steps, Koehler continued, “We needed to know about our end users. How would they use the device? What about the culture needs to be understood for this to be a successful venture?”

Now back on campus in Ann Arbor, it seems they have their answers. Already they’ve set their minds to work on the problems they must solve in order to fully realize this project’s potential and proven global reach.

Team leader and U-M Ph.D. student Nathaniel Skinner says, "We plan to review all our material and crystallize our vision and the requirements necessary for successful completion of our project. There is no rest for the weary, as we have already started compiling a distilled version of the information we've gathered."

Watch for a video that will capture their experience first hand, coming soon.
To get in touch with the M-HEAL group, contact U-M Ph.D. student Nathaniel Skinner at

1 comment:

  1. Are you guys ready for a US based field test? Let me know. We need a remote stethoscope that will work over the internet for telemedicine applications.

    Nick Smith
    Chief Technology Officer
    OffSiteCare Inc.