For the past few years, Fondation Pierre Fabre has been exploring the advantages provided by ICT in the realm of healthcare. In 2012 and 2013, for example, it subsidised the DrepanoMRS application. In 2015, however, the Foundation decided to take a more ambitious step by financing the design and development of an echo stethoscope through the EchOpen project. This initiative is a response to advances in ultrasonic diagnostic equipment, which continues to become less bulky and less costly.
EchOpen is working to develop an echo-stethoscope sensor prototype that plugs into a smartphone or tablet. This 21st-century stethoscope, simple and extremely portable, would make it possible to obtain real-time ultrasound and Doppler imaging, whatever the exam (gynaecological, vascular, muscle-tendon, breast, cervical, etc.) and to share the results using the Cloud for diagnostic assistance from specialists.
The unprecedented development of this tool, in Open Source Hardware, is one of its main assets: by rallying the volunteer efforts of a strong scientific community, it could be distributed inexpensively in the South. It would also promote better access to medical imaging and telemedicine, for swifter diagnoses. A way to fundamentally change patients referrals and save lives in under-medicalised areas.