BYU professors design Bluetooth stethoscope to keep healthcare workers safe from COVID-19

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jun 28, 2020

PROVO — COVID-19 is changing the way we do a lot of things, and one of those things include how you get treatment from a doctor.

Craig Nuttall, a nursing professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, says he also works in an emergency room when he's not teaching, and he has found that using a regular stethoscope is almost impossible when he's equipped with personal protective equipment.

"I’ve been working with Dr. Teng on this digital stethoscope for another project in India and I thought this is the perfect application for this," said Nuttall.

Using an existing open-source 3D printed design, Nuttall worked with Chia-Chi Teng, an information technology professor at BYU, to create a digital stethoscope.

It works with an app to live stream or record a patient's heartbeat up to a range of 50 feet to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a speaker.

The patient would hold it up to points on their chest under the direction of a doctor or nurse.

Teng says another great thing about this is it's easy to put together with just a few parts.

He helped develop the 3D printed parts to form a functional, digital stethoscope that costs less than $20 to make.

Both professors admit that while digital stethoscopes have been around for some time, they are still expensive, so this is a low-cost way to make them for doctors across the country and even around the world.

Nuttall said, "I’ve been using this over the past month as I worked in the emergency department on several patients, so I use it on any patient who has COVID-like symptoms."

In addition to protecting healthcare staff, Nuttall said he wants the digital stethoscope to be used for things like telemedicine, treating patients in isolation, and in developing countries that don't have access to healthcare.

Instructions on how to build a 3D printed digital stethoscope can be found here and the accompanying Stethogram iOS app is available here.