University of Victoria engineering students Irina Morozov

Digital health care from home

Students design affordable eSteth

Hours spent in a doctor’s waiting room could be a thing of the past, if a trio of UVic students have their way.

The engineering majors created an affordable digital stethoscope system, able to remotely listen to a person’s lungs, heart and intestines from anywhere in the world.

The eSteth is a digital stethoscope that allows users to log their vital readings online from home, which doctors or nurses can then access.

“Telemedicine is becoming pretty big, but it’s largely inaccessible to the home user, just due to system costs and infrastructure,” said Christian McMechan, who designed the digital stethoscope before creating the accompanying eSteth software system with his classmates.

Despite other similar products on the market, the system received an intellectual property award from the university on July 22 for its innovation and commercial potential.

The eSteth was designed with affordability in mind, McMechan said, estimating their digital stethoscope could be purchased for about a quarter of the price of existing digital stethoscopes, which retail for approximately $500. It would make telemedicine more accessible to the general public in need of at-home nursing, for example,  potentially eliminating the need for greater hospital infrastructure.

“Projects such as this will bring telemedicine to the home user in the future,” he added.

Project co-ordinator Nikitas Dimopoulos is optimistic the eSteth could change the way technology-assisted diagnoses are made.

“The product is extremely interesting and if they actually manage to make it commercial, I think it will have tremendous appeal,” Dimopoulos said.

McMechan had initially created the digital stethoscope that led to the eSteth system during a co-op work term.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

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