At a time when videoconferencing has revolutionalized the field of medicine, Cardioscan, a GenNext "intelligent stethoscope" introduced by the US-based Zargis Medical Corp has opened up new vistas in the area of heart care.
The Cardioscan can read the heart murmur in a patient in a rural area and also interpret if the heartbeat is normal or abnormal using a specialized software. The interpretation will come in handy for cardiologists to diagnose the patient.
The Cardioscan, a non-invasive and easy to use device that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA in 2006, has already arrived in Chennai. The Frontier Lifeline Hospital is the first super specialty hospital to purchase the device in India.
"The Cardioscan is portable and is used on the patient much like the ECG. If the patient is living in a remote area where he has no access to specialized medical care, he can take a Cardioscan report. The device will then transmit the reading of the heartbeat to the core laboratory in urban centers where the cardiologist can listen to the heart murmur and also interpret it with the help of the software," explained Dr S Ramasamy, director of Vaso-Meditech, which is the distributor for Zargis in India.
According to him, the device is priced between US $15000 to $20000.
A 2005 study conducted by Zargis in association with The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine had revealed that the use of Cardioscan can reduce rates of unnecessary by primary care physicians by an average of 41 per cent.
The study had assessed the impact of the Cardioscan system on referral decisions made by primary care physicians regarding heart murmurs — which are potential signs of heart disease. The study measured the accuracy of a group of primary care physicians in evaluating a set of 100 recorded heart sounds.
Medical experts in India feel that the wide use of Cardioscan would reduce the medical cost incurred by patients. For instance, a patient from Nagercoil need not come all the way to Chennai for cardiac care. The patient can rather undergo a Cardioscan and based on the advice of the cardiologist in Chennai decide on further treatment.
This is much like the Sustainable Access in Rural Internet project (SARI) initiated by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras) and N-Logue Private Limited five years ago. The project, which had demonstrated the impact of the ICT in the health and education sector, helped rural folks solve problems through videoconferencing sitting inside Internet kiosks. The success stories of farmers transmitting photographs of diseased crops to agricultural experts in urban centers and using appropriate fertilizers to control pests is still fresh in the memory of those involved in the SARI project.
What is a Cardoscan?: Cardioscan is the first and only computer-assisted medical device designed to support physicians in analyzing heart sounds for the identification of suspected systolic and diastolic murmurs.
Cardioscan is a non-invasive device that is easy to use, portable, and takes just minutes to perform. The device implements voice-guided protocol and a graphical user interface while maintaining an efficient physician workflow.
Cardioscan provides a summary of findings in terms that are readily
understood by physicians and offers an additional range of quantitative auscultatory information that cannot be obtained through listening alone. As a result, Cardioscan enhances auscultation-a procedure that has been universally employed through a stethoscope for nearly 200 years.