The stethoscope, the iconic device representing medical technology for the past two centuries, may be fading from the scene as physicians start to embrace mobile technology in the form of handheld ultrasound devices and smartphone apps.

Newer digital stethoscopes enable doctors to not only listen to heart sounds and record them, but handheld devices provide high-resolution ultrasound that can actually “see” what’s wrong with the heart.“Why do you want to still focus on these heart sounds that provide very indirect information and secondary acoustic events?” asks Eric Topol, MD, chief academic officer of Scripps Health in San Diego and a practicing cardiologist. “It’s time to move on.”

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