Handheld ultrasounds have made the news several times in recent years. Health Tech Insider has covered one designed for first responders and another intended for expectant parents to use at home. GE Healthcare first introduced its Vscan line of portable, pocket-sized ultrasound devices in 2009. The latest generation, Vscan Extend 2, has an impressive array of cloud-based features, wireless communication, and enhanced image quality… and it’s designed for use in the field as well as in hospitals.

Vscan Extend 2 enables provider collaboration within a hospital system, whether used onsite or across locations. The device meets the standards required for digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) when transmitting images generated by the device. It also integrates with DICOM-enabled picture or archiving communication systems (PACS). That means providers have virtually instantaneous access to images from other medical imaging technology, scanners, servers, and network hardware. 

The encrypted cloud-based transmission of images allows GE’s handheld ultrasound device to assist with rapid diagnosis while decreasing the costs and hassle of traditional onsite ultrasound machines. Providers, including EMS workers, can use the device to obtain high-resolution images that help them assess cardiac and bladder symptoms, among other concerns. Images and records from PACS provide multiangle diagnostic information to all collaborating providers.

Verified for use in limited conditions outside of a healthcare facility, Vscan Extend 2 is intended for clinical use. But the ease of transmission, intuitive touch screen controls, and image quality bode well for use in a consumer model. Should GE Healthcare choose to go that route, perhaps personal ultrasound devices will become as ubiquitous as cell phones. As long as clinicians make the actual diagnosis, personal ultrasounds could reduce the need for onsite ultrasound imaging and significantly increase the effectiveness of telehealth services.