New Bluetooth technology gives UH cardiologists the ability to listen to patients’ hearts from anywhere

Virtual doctors’ visits have been widely popular during the pandemic, but there are still some limitations. New tech hopes to improve the experience.
Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 2:14 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - While virtual doctors’ visits have been widely popular during the pandemic, for safety and convenience, there are still some limitations to those kinds of appointments.

Now a local cardiologist is applying affordable cutting-edge technology to his practice and the results are promising.

“With COVID, there’s a lot more demand to limit having to transport our elderly patients back and forth, especially when they get out of the hospital it’s especially important for us to follow them closely,” said Dr. James Cireddu, Cardiologist at University Hospital’s Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute, and Founder and CEO of Telehealth Solutions.

He says the VPExam has tremendous potential to keep patients out of the hospital, and doctors conducting more complete physical exams, from anywhere.

“The user is usually a nurse, could be a medical assistant, and we’re hoping eventually it could be the patient themselves,” he said.

The Bluetooth enabled stethoscope is roughly the size of a deck of cards. It’s paired with an app for a smart phone or tablet.

“It uses a combination of augmented reality to tell the person where to hold their smart phone or tablet. So we can look at things like neck veins. We can look things like leg swelling, edema. And we tell them where to apply pressure so we can look at where the swelling is and how bad it is,” Dr. Cireddu said.

Doctors can listen to the heart and lungs, and record the readings to compare to previous check ups.

The VPExam Bluetooth technology is giving cardiologists at University Hospitals the chance listen to patients' hearts...

Posted by Jen Picciano on Monday, March 8, 2021

They’ve been doing pilots since 2016 and Dr. Cireddu says they’ve been able to show significant reduction in hospital readmission and get ahead of serious complications that land patients in the emergency room.

The technology is aimed at home health and skilled nursing facilities.

“But eventually, telemedicine is moving in the direction that this could be a platform that could be available in patients’ homes, schools, college campuses, corporate offices,” said Dr. Cireddu.

This technology has been used on patients post heart surgery like Katrina Cox. She says it’s helped her manage the many doctors’ appointments she has to juggle.

“Transportation is a big thing for me, getting back and forth to the doctor. I have so much, where now it’s ‘Is this doctor appointment more important than the other one?’ I have to pick and choose which doctors’ appointments to go to,” she said.

“It’s an approachable piece of equipment and it gives us doctors a lot more confidence in our critical decision making, said Dr. Cireddu.

UH Regional is extending this technology in to nursing facilities as part of a quality improvement project in Bedford and Richmond Home Health Programs.

The plan is to make the $350 units more widely accessible later this year.

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