New portable ultrasound machine has big advantages
The point-of-care ultrasound is ground-breaking technology that could change health care - and it fits in the palm of your hand.
London is leading the country in the use of the device, and its portability - either laptop- or palm-sized - is the biggest advantage.
Dr. Robert Arntfield, a critical care doctor at London Health Sciences Centre, says, "Instead of bringing patients to the ultrasound machine, we can bring the ultrasound machine to the patient."
He adds, "Much the same way that they would put the stethoscope on the chest, it's now an ultrasound probe. So unlike a lot of technology, ultrasound actually bring physicians back to the bedside."
Arntfield is an expert in the technology, and he emphasizes that in medicine, moments matter.
"That's really helpful for those of us who practice in acute care environments like the [Intensive Care Unit], the Emergency Room, the Operating Room - where transporting patients is sometimes hazardous and the diagnosis and problems they may be having are changing second to second."
From the conventional stethoscope to diagnostic technology that can fit in the palm of your hand, technology is likely to revolutionize medicine.
"Even in a hand-held device, which you can see is almost the size of a cellphone, we have the ability to look at blood flow with something called colour doppler. And it produces images that are of nearly the same quality as the larger devices that you see."
Improved diagnosis also helps the health care system, says Dr. James Calvin, chief of medicine at LHSC.
"Rather than taking two or three days sometimes to actually figure out what's going on, we can get an answer quicker. If we can get an answer quicker, not only are we reducing costs, we're improving the patient experience."
Arntfield has literally written the book on the technology, which he says could change how we see doctors.
"As much as we like the images of doctors with their stethoscopes, and there's still a role for that, in 2014 we need a more powerful tool that can be wielded at the bedside."