When we first think of the wirings in Medicine, we may think of the critically ill patient, surrounded by dozens of entangled leads that all connect up to machines that continuously programme to maintain that patient’s life. ECG leads, pulse oximetry, blood pressure cuffs. Then, when we think of wireless medicine, we adopt a thinking approach on the advances of technology and artificial intelligence within Medicine – the sorts that allow patients to live as normal lives as possible, with the most minimal line and lead, whilst they endure the treatment process. When then, have we ever thought about wireless medicine in the focus of its benefits to us healthcare staff – nurses, doctors?
Some parts of the UK are already adopting more consistent and reliable approaches to everyday Medicine, finally gripping onto the trust of technology. Having been a patient in London on numerous occasions, I’ve observed the use of computers on wheels as their point of referral and record on ward rounds. Meanwhile, as a medical student back in South Wales, I continue to try (and sometimes struggle) to interpret the many hand-written notes in flimsy patient folders upon each ward round. Surely, the use of computers is at least one step forward for standard technology use and improvement for the NHS?
As a deafblind medical student, I am forever having to keep my eyes and ears open (quite literally) to any news or appearances of new technology and gadgets out there. The fast advancement and progress in the use of technology and gadgets has enabled not just a select few professionals, but all professionals with ranging abilities, to access Medicine in the most accurate and up-to-date ways. An independent trip to the USA a few summers ago in search for blind and deaf doctors, in order to learn how they use technology to help them access the working field of Medicine, immediately opened up a new and very exciting world of accessible, wireless Medicine to me. It was this existence of such technology, Wireless Medicine, that reaffirmed even further that practicing Medicine as a disabled medical student was absolutely doable if I had this access to such advanced equipment.
Although we, the NHS, as an overall body, are still considerably behind in the world of technological Medicine compared to the likes of our American and Asian superpowers for instance, it is not to say that Wireless Medicine should be completely dismissed. After some research and advice from my American colleagues across the Pond, a particularly special type of stethoscope was purchased for me, so that I can listen to the heart and lung sounds of many a countless patient, despite having severe to profound hearing loss, and wearing hearing aids bilaterally. Even better? – my new stethoscope is indeed, wireless.
When I remove my hearing-aids from my ears, the entire world around me falls completely silent. I am unable to hear the patients repeat after me ‘99’, I am unable to hear what the lead consultant is reiterating to the rest of us on the ward round, and I completely fail to hear the patient’s heart and breath sounds, let alone my own breath sounds. The new ‘ThinkLabs’ stethoscope enables me to do all of the above without even having to remove my hearing-aids, still being able to gage all of the environment around me, plus the very, very amplified sounds of the patient’s heartbeat. And it’s simply wonderful. With just the head, or bell, of the stethoscope, it enables me to pick up accurate sounds without even having to insert a single earpiece into my own ears. No leads, no wires, just an invisible connection between my gadget and my hearing aid via a small Bluetooth device worn lightly around the neck. Wireless.
I often get excited when patients ask me what I’m doing holding just the lonely bell of the stethoscope. I gladly talk them through the amazing ability of this special gadget that I can call my own. At times, I even like to think of my ‘ThinkLabs’ as my own personal superpower – the superpower that gives me such good hearing that I can detect a heartbeat a mile away. Almost true, that. It will come in especially handy on my paediatrics rotation for sure – perhaps I’m in need of X-ray spectacles next?
As I work through just my third day of a fortnight-placement on the respiratory ward, I am able to gain more and more experience with this wireless stethoscope, picking up stoney dullness and higher vocal resonances one by one. Only yesterday, a consultant on the ward round, accompanying us through bedside teaching, showed particular interest in my stethoscope, partly because she herself had a daughter interested in embarking into the world of Medicine but was unsure how to with a hearing impairment of her own. I was delighted to be able to share my experiences and recommendations therefore, and also my first-hand knowledge that Medicine would in fact be very accessible and doable for her hearing-impaired daughter. Why? Because with wireless Medicine, technology makes everything so much more accessible for anybody in the career field. We are slower to catch on, but I can only hope that with a continuation in this advancement of fascinatingly clever technology, so many more disabled doctors can benefit from these new wireless gadgets, in addition to patients themselves.
Thank you ThinkLabs!