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Waikato Hospital anaesthetist James Clark listens to patient Sheryl’s chest via electronic stethoscope, during a trial of the new technology in August.

Waikato District Health Board (DHB) is testing the use of an electronic stethoscope, a first in New Zealand.

Clinical director virtual health care, Dr Ruth Large, says the new electronic stethoscope combines with existing Telehealth technology to increase accessible health care options for patients in remote areas.

Telehealth provides safe and secure video conferencing between patients and specilaists. The introduction of the electronic stethoscope allows clinicians to also listen to a patient’s chest and heart sounds from a remote location.

“This is especially useful for patients requiring an outpatient consult with an anaesthetist,” says Dr Large.”Pre-anaesthetic checks are mostly about discussion and consent with the patient, but the anaesthetist also needs to check for heart murmers.”

“Using the electronic stethoscope means these checks can be done remotely, saving travel time for the anaesthetist and the patient.”

Initial trials of the electronic stethoscope have been positive and Dr Large is hoping to have permanent clinics set up with the new technology by the end of the year.

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