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Expanding the Benefits of POCUS Through Tele-Ultrasound

From when it was first introduced in the late 1960s to now, telemedicine continues to play a crucial role in overcoming the geographical barriers that can limit the quality of accessible health care. The advantages of having access to remote care extend from benefiting rural communities with otherwise limited medical treatment access to the current circumstances spurred on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The technology behind telemedicine has enhanced healthcare providers’ abilities to provide remote consults and increased the opportunities for patients worldwide to receive diagnoses. Consequently, as the advantages of remote healthcare have accumulated, it has spurred the implementation of different telehealth services that coexist to improve the practice of distance medicine further.

Sonography in Healthcare

The healthcare infrastructure has seen a growth in the popularity and usage of sonography as ultrasound machines have become smaller and more portable. Medical curriculums and practices have seen a spike in the presence of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) devices due to their ability to improve physician-patient relationships by supplementing the diagnostic process. In parallel to the growth of telehealth technology that supports data transmission, this evolution has helped prompt the growth of the tele-ultrasound practice.

The Advantages of Tele-Ultrasound

Tele-ultrasound is a diagnostic and educational practice that allows ultrasound to be performed on patients even when an expert is not physically at the examination site. It’s able to be conducted in real-time or asynchronously and allows professionals to collaborate regardless of location, which enriches their ability to provide a faster diagnosis with more confidence.

In a 2018 video promoting their Philips Lumify integrated tele-ultrasound powered by Reacts, which is an ultra-portable ultrasound that lets health professionals collaborate, Philips Healthcare identifies the five primary benefits that tele-ultrasound facilitates to be:

  1. Real-time communication
  2. Remote collaboration
  3. Confidence
  4. Knowledge
  5. Learning

They achieve these, along with better patient care, through a cumulation of real-time 2-way video, audio calls, and live ultrasound streaming that takes place with virtual guidance.

Tele-ultrasound has impacted rural and urban healthcare. It is frequently utilized in providing remote care for members of communities with limited access to primary healthcare facilities, and it has also proved to be invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technical Advancements in the Tele-Ultrasound Field

With even more possibilities on the horizon, recent growth and technological expansions have led to creating a variety of resources and methods within the tele-ultrasound field. Technical innovations have paved the way for an increase in the accessibility of ultrasound around the globe.

Philips Lumify with Reacts: Partnership in integrated tele-ultrasound dives into the collaboration and partnership between Philips and Reacts, as well as their joint mission in shaping the healthcare field. “Lumify was created with a vision in mind to allow access to ultrasound wherever a clinician and patient interacted,”  said Randy Hamilin, Philip’s previous Vice President and Segment Leader for Point-of-Care.

Another monumental advancement in tele-ultrasound is the remote ultrasound MELODY system. This program incorporates an ultrasound probe attached to the end of a robotic arm connected to an ultrasound machine attached by the onsite clinician. Then, the imaging expert who is engaged through synchronous video call assigns tasks to the robotic arm.

The Connection Between POCUS and Tele-Ultrasound 

During both in-person and remote consultations, the benefits of ultrasound usage continue to grow alongside the technology that makes them possible.

The portability of ultrasound provides medical professionals with the capabilities to collect relevant diagnostic information faster and more efficiently, which results in patients receiving answers and better care in a timely manner. Tele-ultrasound allows individuals in healthcare scarce settings to reap the same benefits from POCUS as bedside ultrasound patients.

Tele-ultrasound has the capabilities to bring the medical field even closer to its goal of offering the highest quality care on a global scale. Eliminating distance as a barrier enables the elevated accessibility of ultrasound to expand the horizon of healthcare opportunities on a scale exceeding our atmosphere.

Indeed a vision to be watched!


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