This year, on May 12th, Canada celebrates the 95th anniversary of its national health day. Canada Health Day honours the birthday of Florence Nightingale, an innovator in public health.
One of the many achievements of the remarkable Florence Nightingale was her mission to make health care readily available to everyone, regardless of their class or income. Her work served as an early precursor to Britain’s National Health Service, which provides free healthcare at the point of use, with some exceptions, to all UK residents.
The notion of accessible healthcare is one that I feel passionately about. I am a strong believer that digital technologies and telemedicine are an integral part of making health care more affordable and accessible around the world.
Telemedicine, or ‘telehealth,’ is the provision of remote access to a physician via phone or videoconference to address a health care issue. It’s not a new concept and its value is well recognised in some situations, for example, when patient’s live in rural areas. Telemedicine is also becoming a good alternative in urgent care or for emergency situations where patients may have visited an ER simply because a primary care provider was not available (for example on the weekend). This is a much more cost efficient way of managing, say, an ear infection or a bad cold, as a visit to the ER can cost up to $3000, while a telemedicine consultation can cost as little as $40.
However, while the benefits of telemedicine are obvious in some scenarios, for some medical issues it may not be an appropriate solution as doctors can only make an assessment based on what they see over the video call and what the patient tells them.
To that end, a greater variety of medical data types need to be available remotely to simulate the in-person medical experience. For example, if a patient visits a physician for a cough or cold, the doctor will listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, and possibly take the patient’s temperature and blood pressure as part of the overall assessment. These clinical tools are not always available in the home and, subsequently, the assessment can be challenging.
Respiratory conditions are the number one reason for visiting a physician and up until now there hasn’t been an easy way to allow remote doctors to listen to sounds that might reveal heart murmurs, wheezes and crackles. Remote diagnosis and monitoring is quite difficult without this, particularly for cardiorespiratory conditions like asthma, heart failure and pneumonia.
This is part of the thinking that led us to create the CliniCloud Connected Medical Kit. The kit contains two of the most basic and useful diagnostic tools in medicine; a digital stethoscope that connects to a smartphone, and a non-contact thermometer. Both these tools are Health Canada approved Class II medical devices and have been specifically developed for home use. The stethoscope is the first of its kind available on the market.
Patients can use the CliniCloud stethoscope and thermometer to record temperature and the sounds of the heart and lungs. They can then save the recordings within the CliniCloud app and share these recordings with a physician directly through the app if required.
These tools can be used for self-monitoring and can also provide remote physicians with information they need to make a diagnosis on medical issues that may otherwise have required a trip to the doctor’s office or the ER. In this way, medical grade tools enable a telemedicine visit to become much more like an in-person visit.
Through the development of medical grade connected devices, our vision is to equip the home with the tools necessary to enable home-based healthcare for a broad range of medical issues and, subsequently, make health care more affordable and accessible around the world.
You can purchase a CliniCloud Connected Medical Kit on Best Buy.ca