Mobile medicine is advancing by leaps and bounds. One of the most important diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals is digital imaging. Having the ability to peer safely inside a living body to identify injury or infection has transformed medical practice. And efforts to miniaturize and make portable versions of standard imaging equipment is improving care even further.

Consider the example of Sonoscanner‘s U-Lite portable ultrasound system. The French company has managed to create a handheld tablet that is small enough to fit in a pocket. It comes with a range of different probes, and the interface is designed to make it easier for healthcare workers to use without extensive training. The company recently won a bid to provide the system to all the major hospitals in Sweden. The devices will be used for three main applications. Emergency response workers will have access to them to help diagnose patients in the field and during transport to the hospital. Doctors will be able to use the system to issue diagnoses during imaging consultations. And the devices will be used during ultrasound-guided interventional procedures. The small, portable form factor and relative low cost compared with traditional systems will mean that ultrasound imaging will be more broadly available in more situations, which in turn should result in better diagnoses and treatment outcomes.

This is just one example of how mobile medical devices are having an important impact. In addition to improving care in traditional hospital settings, they are also making imaging technology available in “medical deserts” that lack access to sophisticated equipment and the specialists required to operate them.