Over time, ultrasound systems are becoming efficiently portable, in some cases they are even evolving into ultracompact palm-sized devices. The portable systems are convenient for people since they can be carried anywhere. One of the principal advantages of portable ultrasound is the possibility to provide diagnostics to the patients who for some reason cannot go to the clinic or visit the doctor. The portable ultrasound has multiple benefits. Many practicing specialists prefer the portable ultrasound since they may require it in the field also. The portable ultrasound is effective in the places with space limitation. It is suitable for those doctors who have personal clinics where the space occupied is really less. Ultrasound can be is used more easily in emergency medicine and surgery fields. Possibility to use portable machines along with video broadcasting appliances (such as Epiphan’s DistanceDoc) allows for instant transfer of ultrasound scans to any location over Ethernet.
There are many demanding applications for a lightweight portable compact device that delivers real-time scanning. Field emergency medical service (EMS) teams have quicker access to patients and are able to send in results instantly. In case the ride is long, a doctor can perform diagnostics remotely. The portable ultrasound makes mobility easy and hence the doctors are reachable at a convenient place. During routine office visits, general practitioners can perform ultrasound examination without needing a specialist. Increased portability allows providing higher level of medical service in remote areas and villages. Adoption of portable ultrasound of course requires budget for acquisition of these devices that diagnose, scan, and analyze as well as for training. But very often the benefits vastly outweigh the costs.
In today's digital world, increasing number of people is going online through a computer or smartphone to access information. Physician smartphone adoption rates will experience significant growth over the next few years. Probably, 81% of U.S. physicians will own smartphones in 2012 according to Manhattan Research’s report. Clinicians have strong preferences to these devices that can leverage professional and personal usage. With a surge of new 4G smartphones currently on the market, this trend is likely to continue. A lot of health care professionals and those working in health care related field, use smartphones on a day to day basis. This is important if healthcare work requires medical specialists to visit remote clinics or work in rural settings. Many mobile apps pertaining to health and medical practice have been developed for the smartphones. Using Wi-Fi connection, you can access electronic health records via the web, document, retrieve and communicate patient information at the point-of-care.
Back on topic, when ultrasound scans are broadcast over the network, they can be viewed either on a workstation or on a web-enabled smartphone. This approach is especially effective in distant regions and rural settings where personnel is with minimal or no expertise in ultrasound. Epiphan’s broadcasting solutions such as DistanceDoc can transfer ultrasound images to a remote site – medical consulting centre, hospital – for proper interpretation and diagnosis. Applications developed by Epiphan for iDevices allow specialists to gain wireless control over DistanceDoc – start/stop capturing images and storing them on iDevices.
It is important to know the following: when ultrasound images are viewed on a smartphone with dedicated medical imaging software, will their interpretation be as accurate as in case of a workstation?
As per latest studies published in Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography, intraobserver agreement comparing interpretations on workstations and smartphones was 90% signifying excellent intertechnology agreement. Eighty-nine patients in a remote Honduran village underwent echocardiography by a non-expert using a pocket-size ultrasound device. Images were verified by expert echocardiographers reading on a workstation. Studies were then reinterpreted on a smartphone with a dedicated application. Abnormal findings were overwhelmingly matched and categorized at the same level of severity by either expert interpretation. Physicians looking to improve quality of diagnostics and leverage imminent digital opportunities can rely upon smartphones for remote interpreting ultrasound images.