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Handheld Ultrasound Education.

Embrace Handheld Ultrasound Training to Expand Patient Engagement

Handheld ultrasound may present the opportunity to help physicians further engage their patients, which is why some are evaluating adding it to their practices. After all, having another diagnostic tool is appealing to providers looking to improve patient care. However, bringing in this new technology requires training to get the most out of it. 

Many technologies have been presented as solutions, but few offer the accessibility, results and efficiency of hand-held ultrasound. For example, a study in Clinical Cardiology demonstrated "that the pocket-sized [portable transthoracic echocardiography (pTTE)] provides accurate detection of cardiac structural and functional abnormalities beyond the [electrocardiogram]." It also found that "the use of pTTE as an initial screening tool prior to [standard TTE] is cost-effective." And yet, the benefits don't stop there.

An Exceptional Patient Experience
The majority of patients most likely appreciate fewer tests, more convenience and reduced complications in their billing and financial experiences. Reducing unnecessary tests is important, and point of care ultrasound may be a practical step toward achieving that goal. According to Heart, "[Hand-held cardiac ultrasound] performed at the point of care by [family doctors] with remote expert support interpretation using a web-based system is feasible, rapid and useful for detecting significant echocardiographic abnormalities and reducing the number of unnecessary echocardiographic studies."

Increased Physician Engagement
Put simply, becoming a more confident user of handheld ultrasound gives physicians another way to engage their patients. According to the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, "By implementing pocket-size ultrasound examinations that took less than 11 minutes to the usual care, we corrected, verified or added important diagnoses in more than 1 of 3 emergency medical admissions. Point-of-care examinations with a pocket-size imaging device increased medical residents' diagnostic accuracy and capability."

Empowerment Through Ultrasound Training
Giving physicians access to the benefits of these new approaches to ultrasound and the physical examination requires training that is adaptable and that empowers physicians to optimize their results and maintain their skills over time.

On-Demand Training
The benefits of portable ultrasound training shouldn't be limited just to residents. Physicians who are advanced in their careers need flexible training methods to maintain and refresh their ultrasound skills over time.
Comprehensive, on-demand options facilitate continuous education and are accessible to physicians ranging from novice users who are just learning the technology to experienced practitioners who want to keep their skills sharp. These options include the following:
  • Focused courses.
  • Online videos and tutorials.
  • Point-of-care technology courses.
  • Point-of-care preceptorship courses.
  • Third-party training options.
  • Coaches.
  • Webcasts and webinars.
Learning Online
Online training now offers flexibility and continuous education that wasn't possible in the past. GE's POCUS FocusClass by 123 Sonography may help doctors gain confidence in performing basic ultrasound studies and interpretation. Physicians have access to modular options that can be tailored to training budgets, schedules and learning styles. These include common applications involving the following:
  • Heart.
  • Lung.
  • Obstetrics.
  • Kidney.
  • Vascular (abdominal aorta and deep vein thrombosis).
  • Biliary tract.
This type of training is designed specifically for primary care physicians and their busy schedules so that proficiency can be developed with maximum efficiency.

Today's ultrasound training options offer a wide range of benefits, including providing opportunities for physician champion projects, patient interaction initiatives and overall engagement goals. Clinical leaders invested in keeping their teams up to date in a fast-changing clinical technology landscape should keep ultrasound training on their shortlist of priorities.
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Technology and Innovation. Handheld Ultrasound Practice Areas.

Building the Doctor-Patient Relationship With Practical Visualization Tools

The doctor-patient relationship relies on strong communication, just like every other relationship in healthcare. Between providers, communication failure, not a lack of provider skill, has been identified as the root cause of approximately 80 percent of serious adverse events in healthcare settings. The implications of failures in doctor-patient communications should be taken just as seriously.

Medical schools are stepping up to the plate and putting more emphasis on relationships and communication, but more practical steps are needed. Thankfully, a new class of portable tools is emerging to address those gaps.

Better Outcomes Start With Physician Empowerment
Often, the discussion around outcome improvement centers on patient empowerment. Of course, patient-centered health matters, but a large portion of it rests in the hands of physicians.

Physicians have an amazing opportunity to be catalysts in revolutionizing the patient experience, simply by being willing and enthusiastic agents of patient empowerment.

At the same time, the benefits of an improved doctor-patient relationship flow both ways. Having confused, irritated patients might lead to poor outcomes, which may directly impact a physician's feelings of job fulfillment — a dynamic that can't be ignored as we face the public health crisis of physician burnout.
 
Technology That's Improving the Doctor-Patient Relationship
The relationship between doctors and patients is dynamic and relies on direct communication. However, it's also filtered through the overall patient experience. Breakthroughs in technology have been made that not only improve care, but also open up new channels of communication for physicians.

Advances in digital devices allow 4D ultrasound allow doctors to not only share digital images almost immediately with expectant parents with one click, but also enable instantaneous collaboration with other clinicians in addressing any issues. The cloud-based system Tricefy™ allows immediate commentary from physicians and facilitates dialog from practically anywhere.

Enhancing clinical relationships requires not only better communication skills, but also tools that close the gap between diagnosis and patient understanding through a more educational and interactive experience. Patients can not only see what their doctors see, but also get more precise information, like the exact location of an issue. This is where portable technology, such as handheld ultrasound, gives teeth to initiatives attempting to improve the doctor-patient relationship.

Understanding the Power of Handheld Ultrasound
Handheld ultrasound has led the way to a new level of accessibility for providers, with some units being the size of a smartphone, while still providing quality images. According to the conclusion of a study published in The Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica that compared the Vscan and the Vivid-i systems, "the Vscan displays image quality interchangeable with larger and more expensive systems. The apparatus is well-suited for performing a (focus-assessed transthoracic echocardiography) examination in a one-day surgery setting and could very well also be applicable in almost any situation involving patients with acute illness."

The simple nature of their portability can help doctors at the bedside, as well. Authors of a study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine concluded "that the use of ultrasound by hospitalists will continue to modernize the bedside evaluation and streamline the diagnostic process."

Consider the fact that the use of pocket mobile ultrasound devices (PUDs) has been found to actually spare patients the negative and often costly experience of unnecessary exams. According to a study published in PLOS One, "after a simple and short training course, a PUD examination can be used in addition to a physical examination to improve the answer to 10 common clinical questions concerning in- and outpatients, and can reduce the need for further testing."

Clinical settings, though, are just the beginning. Organizations such as Doctors To You are meeting patients where they are and leveraging technology like Vscan Extend™ to expand the reach of house calls. We're also entering a period where more employers are offering healthcare services in the workplace. Companies including Disney, Apple, Boeing, Cisco and Goldman Sachs now provide on-site clinics for their employees, further increasing the potential for portability and accessibility in diagnostic modalities like handheld ultrasound, and opening up an entirely new venue for the doctor-patient relationship.

Initiatives around improving outcomes and the patient experience can easily remain abstract without serious discussions about the technology that pulls them into clinical realities. Forward-thinking healthcare leaders should keep an eye out for developments like handheld ultrasound as foundational tools in improving doctor-patient communications.
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Handheld Ultrasound Trends. Technology and Innovation.

Move over Batman, Bat-students are coming: Using ultrasound to “see with sound”

When Dr. Phelan stood in front of the freshman class at a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas and asked how many students had seen an ultrasound system, many hands shot up. However, when he asked if they knew how an ultrasound worked, the room went silent.

Dr. Kevin Phelan, a professor in the Division of Clinical Anatomy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has a passion for STEM in local schools – and that means getting students excited about imaging technologies, specifically ultrasound. With the help of a five-year grant called the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Dr. Phelan and his colleagues created the ArkanSONO program in collaboration with the Little Rock School District in central Arkansas to do just that.

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Improving Patient Care. Handheld Ultrasound Trends. Technology and Innovation.

Inside Africa’s Floating Hospital

Dr. Leo Cheng, a maxillofacial reconstructive surgeon with the UK National Health Service, spends two to three weeks of his leave each year volunteering on board the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest charitable floating hospital run by international charity Mercy Ships. His patients suffer from large benign tumours on the face and neck. Many of them have never received any kind of healthcare before they meet him.

Earlier this year, Dr. Cheng joined the Africa Mercy to travel to Tamatave in Madagascar, where more than 90% of the population live on less than a dollar a day. For every 10,000 residents, there are only two physicians and three hospital beds available.

The Africa Mercy has five state-of-the-art operating rooms and advanced equipment to help make fast and accurate diagnoses. Dr. Cheng and the ship’s team are always on the lookout for new methods and technologies that can improve the work they do while aboard.

 
“Ahead of this latest journey, I initially inquired about a laptop-style ultrasound machine. Once I found out about the Vscan with Dual Probe, I immediately felt that I must introduce this to the ship clinicians,” Dr. Cheng said.

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Improving Patient Care. Handheld Ultrasound Trends. Technology and Innovation.

Massive Storm, Small Technology

On September 9, Jeff Hersh, a doctor, watched the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Florida fill with carloads of people fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.

Jeff was on the other side of the highway, driving south and intentionally heading into the oncoming storm.

Irma struck northern Caribbean islands as well as the U.S. mainland and is blamed for dozens of deaths as well as power outages to millions of homes and businesses.

Jeff is among the 36 members of the Boston Strong MA1 Disaster Medical Assist Team (DMAT), which was activated as part of the United States Health and Human Service’s National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) response to Hurricane Irma.

In its 30-year history, NDMS has participated in more than 300 deployments to disasters domestically. It’s is made up of civilian, disaster-response trained people who become intermittent federal employees, serving as boots on the ground when and where they’re needed.

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