9 Reasons Portable Ultrasounds Are Gaining Popularity

portable, laptop-based ultrasound machine

portable, laptop-based ultrasound machine

In many healthcare practices, the mobility and size of ultrasound equipment matters. Compact size and increased portability have remarkably increased the accessibility of ultrasound in all healthcare environments, be it critical, point-of-care settings or clinics in remote areas. Portable medical equipment is not only a great tool to have on hand in emergency settings, but it also improves clinical workflow in private practices. The equipment aids in reducing wait times for both patients and doctors and speeding up treatment administration, which in turn improves patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Apart from the immense diagnostic benefits, portable ultrasound machines also offer cost efficiencies as they’re much less expensive than their stationary counterparts. While it’s a known fact that many portable ultrasounds do not have the advanced features offered by regular ultrasounds, the former is much easier to use and is evolving with advancing technology.

Given the relevance of portable ultrasound machines in medicine today, it’d be worthwhile to examine in depth the reasons for their widespread use among doctors the world over. Let’s begin!

What Makes Portable Ultrasounds So Popular?  

operator squeezes gel in preparation for use of the portable ultrasound machine

There are many benefits of portable ultrasound machines like mobility, easy accessibility, user-friendliness, and affordability. Moreover, technological advancements in portable ultrasounds have not just led to improved imaging capabilities and advanced features but also to an improved battery life. Due to this, the machines are now allotted for prolonged and uninterrupted use in various settings.

Although all mobile ultrasound equipment is clubbed into one category, it can be grouped into three types – compact, laptop-based, and hand-held or pocket-carried. The overall portable ultrasound market in the US was worth a whopping $1.13 billion in 2019 and is predicted to grow to $1.58 in 2024[1]. Here’s a look at the reasons for their increasing popularity:

1. Fast & Accurate Diagnosis

Having a portable ultrasound machine in any medical practice can help facilitate a more accurate and efficient diagnosis. Portable medical equipment can be moved from room to room instead of having to look for an available machine. This allows doctors to give patients a focused, thorough, and immediate exam in whichever consulting room the patients are located. This new process can lead to a more precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

2. Increased Efficiency Due to Accessibility

Having portable medical equipment at hand helps doctors make quick evaluations and treat patients faster and in a more effective manner. Private clinics are often pressed for time, so having to redirect patients to another ultrasound facility and then waiting for the reports to arrive can delay treatment delivery. Readily accessible equipment can play a huge role in improving the timeliness and quality of healthcare services.

Having equipment that can be moved to the bedside or wherever the patient is located, is necessary as it preempts the need to redirect senior patients to a hospital or another facility for an ultrasound scan. In the case of home visits, doctors can benefit from portable equipment, which allows them to diagnose and administer treatment in a single visit.

3. Patient Convenienc

Moving patients to another room for an evaluation can not only eat into limited clinic hours but can also cause patients physical inconvenience. During peak hours, this can become a problem by leading to queues of patients waiting to be examined.

Situations like these can be resolved with the help of portable ultrasound equipment which can be quickly moved to where the patients are located. Doctors can then conduct an immediate assessment of their condition.

This helps save time, which is a valuable commodity in today’s fast-paced scenario and increases convenience for both medical professionals and patients, leading to improved patient outcomes. In cases of critical illness, immediate diagnosis and treatment administration can even save lives.

4. Low Cost

For medical facilities and clinics, a major obstacle to buying ultrasound equipment is the huge purchase cost. However portable ultrasound machines are relatively much more cost-efficient, in comparison to regular systems. The relatively low cost of portable equipment makes it practical for facilities to even equip each department or room with a separate machine. But if that’s not feasible, a single portable system can be shared between multiple rooms, further reducing the overall equipment cost for healthcare entities.

The starting price of portable ultrasound equipment is $2,000 and this includes hand-held scanners too. The typical cost range of portable ultrasounds is between $5,000 and $100,000 for high-end systems.

5. Enhanced Capabilities

Ultrasound manufacturers are adding more and more features and imaging capabilities to portable medical equipment. This is done in an effort to make them more suitable for a variety of specialties and even critical care settings like the emergency department, operating room, and trauma center, to name just a few.

As these machines continue to progress technologically, they’re getting better, smaller, and more powerful. Some portable machines even offer imaging capabilities that are said to be at par with those of larger trolley-based systems, leading to their increased popularity and universal adoption.

6. Usefulness in Preliminary Medical Investigation

Not all portable machines can provide the comprehensive wide range of examinations offered by a full-range high-end trolley-based system. However, they can be used for dedicated specialties like obstetrics, cardiology, urology, vascular and other applications.

In emergency settings too, they prove to be extremely valuable as they can be used to conduct medical investigations like checking for internal bleeding or the extent of organ damage. Even in private practice they can help conduct preliminary investigations. This helps evaluate the severity of the condition, prompting further tests.

7. Miniaturization

Miniaturization of ultrasound machines has played a role in their increasing adoption. Pocket-carried, hand-help portable, compact, laptop-based systems are all extremely easy to carry as compared to the large unwieldy cart-based systems.

Compact sized machines can be quickly and easily transported across departments, rooms, and healthcare institutes. Medical facilities and private clinics often have space restrictions which can be easily overcome by the adoption of compact-sized portable machines. Some hand-held systems can even fit in doctors’ lab coat pockets.

8. Many Options, Many Applications

Portable machines are especially great for targeted exams as opposed to the comprehensive scans conducted by radiology professionals.  But their use is not limited to that alone.

Compact, portable ultrasound systems are designed for a variety of specialties and applications today. Some examples of medical professionals that use portable ultrasounds are anesthesiologists, emergency physicians, pain medicine physicians, and rheumatologists. These systems can also be used to guide a range of procedures like tracheal tube placement, CVC/PICC line placement, pericardial effusion, paracentesis, and many more!

Laptop based systems can also be used for detecting the presence of fluid around the lungs, inserting a catheter into a vessel, and other medical procedures. Portable color Doppler ultrasound systems can help doctors evaluate the pulmonary function, locate deep vein thrombosis, and even determine the extent of heart damage in patients with serious heart conditions.

9. Improved Doctor-Patient Relationship

Portable ultrasounds allow prompt, immediate, and accurate diagnoses whenever and wherever patients are located. They also help doctors focus on delivering quality care, which is not possible when patients have to be moved from room to room or made to wait in long queues until scanning equipment is freed up.

Since doctors can offer patients quality time and care with the help of portable equipment, patients feel a higher sense of commitment. Most importantly, doctors can review the scan along with the patients and educate them about their medical condition.

Given the enormous amount of benefits offered by portable medical equipment, it’s no surprise that more facilities are using portable ultrasound to cover their daily diagnostic needs. If you’re looking for the right portable ultrasound system or console unit for your clinic or would like to upgrade your ultrasound machine, National Ultrasound has a full range of machines from reputable manufacturers.

We have high-quality standards and focus on offering high-quality ultrasound equipment at the lowest possible prices. If you would like guidance on selecting the right unit for your practice or if you have any questions, contact National Ultrasound today!