Study Finds Mobile Medical Devices To Be Reliable Alternative To In-Person Examinations

A new study has revealed that the utilization of mobile medical devices for remote physical assessments can offer improved access to healthcare for people who cannot attend to in-person visits. The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of employing a mobile medical device for remote physical examinations compared to traditional in-person examinations. 

This study included 690 people with stable health issues, both with and without chronic conditions. Participants were assessed with a standard in-person exam and a mobile medical device. This device included an otoscope, digital stethoscope, integrated camera, integrated thermometer, and tongue depressor. Data taken using the device was compared to the results of the in-person exam for variables such as heart and lung auscultation, otoscopy, throat and oral examination, skin examination, and abdominal auscultation.

The research revealed that remote physical assessments conducted with the assistance of a mobile device had acceptable concordance with in-person examinations for particular variables such as listening to the heart and lungs, otoscopy, mouth and throat examination, and skin examination. Nevertheless, the agreement was limited for listening to the heart and lungs in babies and abdominal sounds in children of all ages. The concordance values for variables related to skin examination, traits of the mucosa, and heart, lung, and abdominal auscultations were 90% or higher. However, otoscopy, throat and oral examination, and rhinoscopy had lower concordance values. The sensitivity of the mobile medical device for skin examination, throat and oral examination, and otoscopy was over 52%, with the lowest sensitivity being found for abdominal sounds. The researchers noted that certain age groups had limitations in concordance, with more auscultations being affected by crying and agitation when done using the device, particularly in infants.

Although the results of this study showed that the device used provided good measurement concordance and accuracy compared to a conventional stethoscope. However, a higher percentage of auscultations could not be performed satisfactorily in infants. This could be attributed to the greater amplification of sounds from the surrounding environment or the patient (such as crying and agitation) interfering with the quality of auscultation.

Telemedicine has been utilized for a considerable length of time, however the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a major rise in its utilization globally. Mobile medical devices can assist in improving access to qualified medical consideration, just as the circulation of hospital assets. The researchers who carried out the study concluded that remote physical examinations with mobile medical devices could be a dependable option for patients with stable, non-critical conditions. Additionally, they found that the satisfactory measurement concordance in many regions indicates that it can be a valuable tool for those in remote or underserved regions.