It is argued that the coming two decades will see a fundamental revolution in ‘medicine’ and health that will completely transform the field and how health care is viewed [1, 2]. In a world in which many predict that health care and ‘wellness’ will be transformed by the power of the smartphones, computerisation and the ever more rapid advances in sequencing technologies, what is the future of the humble, low-tech conventional stethoscope? In considering this question, it should be remembered that the revolution in European health care that was taking place around the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was just as dramatic as that that is apparently underway in the first half of the twenty-first century. Laennec was a key player in this revolution in which the physician evolved from a professional operating largely on beliefs based on pseudo-‘philosophical’ ideas with no scientific basis to one that has a belief in trying to apply sound scientific insights (the sensible physician knowing that much of what he believes is scientifically sound may prove to be false as knowledge progress over time). Laennec’s insights, largely derived from his expertise in morbid anatomy, generated new knowledge and help embed the notion that, in order to develop effective therapy, we needed to try and understand the disease process based on scientific rigor rather than abstract speculation. He was one of the pioneers of that era who developed the concept that all contemporary ‘knowledge’ needs to be challenged and revised where it is found wanting.