Articles

February 25, 2020

Ultrasound revolution: welcome onboard


Ultrasound unit

Today, rapidly developing healthcare technologies inspire more players to enter the market of diagnostic services. A lot of new solutions are now quite affordable – from wireless connections and secure PACS to compact portable machines. Some companies even create transducers which can be connected to a smartphone!

However, this encourages competition among medical businesses. The competition leads to an increase in quality-to-price ratio and makes physicians with vast experience reframe their views on management and reconsider their diagnostic methods. Innovations are no substitute for the medical expertise, and still, a lot of healthcare enterprises with decades of practice and spotless reputation become driven from the market by younger and smaller entrepreneurs, who have adopted new technologies.

As an example, we can mention modern ultrasound systems, which are currently gaining popularity. The overwhelming majority of such machines are digital and DICOM-friendly. But what are the benefits of ultrasound compared to, say, X-ray? First, US units produce no radiation. On the one hand, it allows physicians to cut their expenditures on radiation protection and dosimetry (not to mention ergonomic issues). On the other hand, the number of studies can be increased. This, in turn, leads to better understanding of the course of the disease and more successfully treated cases.

From the technical point of view, modern ultrasound systems have an extensive capability of structured and templated reporting. Some specific-purpose software allows doctors and technologists to combine these two features, providing them with a powerful diagnostic instrument.

Besides, the leading equipment providers market portable ultrasound units – some of them are laptop-sized, others can be easily held in one hand or even connected to a mobile device. Such machines are usually quite reliable and even more advantageous, especially for small businesses. They are less expensive than stationary equipment and allow the technologist to perform all the necessary procedures right at the patient’s bedside – rapidly and with no compromise in quality. A visiting technologist can cover multiple locations, which is way more convenient for elderly or urgent patients.

But mobility and comfort are not the only ways to increase patients’ satisfaction. Such devices increase transparency of healthcare. Quite often, the patients experience stress or anxiety when they do not understand the real situation. The new approach to diagnostics, based on the use of mobile devices, can eliminate these unfounded fears. For example, a doctor can immediately compare images of a cardiac patient’s heart to a normal organ or more severe pathologies, and explain the difference. This method does not always have a calming effect, and the physician should analyze each particular case before using it. However, together with professional comments, such visualization makes the patient follow the doctor’s orders more carefully.

Practices based on the use of mobile ultrasound systems sometimes attract controversy and evidence-based criticism, arising from misdiagnosing cases. Some claim that the problem lies in the training programs for ultrasound specialists. Others suggest that the major issues are caused by the misuse of the equipment. Without being experts in education, we cannot judge on the first problem, but as for the technical issues, it’s easy to overcome them.

Nowadays, software developers offer a lot of different applications for diagnostic imaging: from single-purpose billing services to A-Z solutions which can streamline all your business processes (including scheduling, reporting, equipment management and much more). Such applications can considerably simplify your operation of medical equipment. Besides, the developers of the most advanced software have understood the benefits of cooperation with equipment providers and medical specialists. Some of them can even send you manuals for your ultrasound machine and help you configure it – completely free of charge.