(UPDATED – to add a word or two about Philips Lumify and Clarius – I took a closer look at both during #SOMSA16)
Dear Ultrasound Industry Reps,
we thought to engage you in conversation about this perfect SOF ultrasound machine. In case SOF medicine doesn’t seem like a market large enough, although it should be your BADGE of HONOR, please don’t forget that battle-hardened & combat-proven gear is highly desired and sought-after in the civilian medical world. Who doesn’t want a bomb-proof 😉 ultrasound? War-zone or not, things tend to go ballistic in just about every ER around the world, and that on daily basis.
So let’s talk business… Here is this dream SOFsono device:
- LOW-ViS (no knights in shining armor, i.e. no white nor fluorescent equipment; anything that doesn’t scream “I’m a medical gadget”)
- LiGHTWEiGHT and compact
- Has a versatile DUAL TRANSDUCER: linear & phased-array capability (curvilinear is OK, but less ideal for critical care cardiac imaging)
- Dual transducer connects to a REGULAR TABLET or a SMARTPHONE – at this point wireless connection comes at cost of increased weight, or a need to get a complete system, so that a single cable that can be exchanged between the probes is OK
- Transducer is the only special equipment that needs to be purchased (no complete proprietary systems)
- Operates in full spectrum of modes: B-mode, M-mode & Doppler
- iMAGES are of good QUALiTY
- BATTERiES aren’t heavy & last forever
- Batteries can be possibly recharged with SOLAR POWER
- Capable of saving clips and images in STANDARD FORMATS such as .mp4 or .jpeg
- Tele-medicine compatible (tele-ultrasound functionality can be achieved with as little as a simple smartphone)
- Meets military specifications (now – this is a relative concept – don’t let it cause delays or make your product fall behind the times)
- LOW-COST (military budgets are shrinking)
Oddly, this perfect SOF ultrasound device doesn’t exist yet, even though the ultrasound industry has already come up with all the concepts listed above. I DON’T TAKE MONEY FROM ANY OF THE FOLLOWiNG COMPANiES – not a penny (whatever the currency), yet I thought it’s worth to mention some concrete brands. With the Memorial Day right around the corner, I am hoping these heavy competitors could go for a little bit of “United We Stand – Divided We Fall“.
SonoSite knows a thing or two about building very durable ultrasound equipment that meets military-grade specifications, but I don’t applaud their drive to have everything set up in proprietary systems… Why on earth would you have a SOF Medic drag yet another tablet – let alone the entire big case with all the supplies? Their rucks are already super heavy – think pocketable, not portable! GE has an idea how to fancy dual probes for handheld devices, but I am not impressed with their image quality on a tiny little screen – I’d love to see them give us a dual probe that connects to any personal device, preferably without wires! Siemens has a clue about wireless transducers, but it’s a complete system with a big screen to drag around – all but ideal… Philips got in the game with the Lumify transducers that connect to any Android devices, but not to the iOS systems – at least not yet. Those probes aren’t wireless nor dual (you need a separate low-frequency and high-frequency transducer), but it is certainly a step in the right direction. I like how lightweight those are. In the end it’s just one cable for any array of probes – not perfect, but pretty good. At this point they only have a linear and a curvilinear transducer, which is not the ideal combination for a SOF Medic. You need a linear and a phased-array. When it comes to critical care in prolonged field care, you need a good probe for cardiac imaging, and a curvilinear transducer doesn’t do it justice. Terason is trying to attract the military end-users with their tablet-device, yet they need to understand that a heavy-duty case is not all that we need here… Special ops medicine is special, and we need you to cater to it! Same memo for BK and Samsung, if they have the interest. And last – there is a new player on the market – namely Clarius… With their goal to impact healthcare delivery in resource-constrained environments, they happen to hit the SOFsono ultra-tunes. Wireless transducer that connects to any tablet or smartphone via an app? Relatively low-cost? Rugged? All of this sounds great but their transducers are way too heavy for the time being. Nearly 1 lbs per probe – I can’t imagine you wanting to add this to your ruck – I wouldn’t put it in the cargo pockets of my scrubs either. Besides it, they would also need to come up a phased-array probe and lose this white casing for sure! 😉
Here is the thing, Ultrasound Industry Reps! If you plan to supply field hospitals or EMS vehicles, then there is likely nothing wrong with a good old “bomb-proof” laptop-like machine… But if your goal is to come up with a personal device that would be used and carried by an individual in the field, then you must think in terms listed above! You must familiarize yourself with the concept of prolonged field care (PFC), and read about the operational context of PFC. We need RUCKable ultrasounds, that is devices which add little extra weight to a ruck of a SOF Medic, not an extra backpack full of sono gear!
Now, I understand that the market for SOF medical gadgets isn’t large, yet there are herds of “gung-ho” paramedics and docs around the world who would love to swap their big and clumsy ultrasound machines for anything that fits in their pockets. There isn’t a shift going by that I don’t wish for a dual ultrasound probe in my pocket that would wirelessly connect to my tablet or phone. What’s more, many medical providers travel around the world to heal in austere and resource-limited environments. Hence the need for all sorts of pocketable and easily deployable ultrasound equipment is actually HUGE!!!
As you get to work, Ultrasound Industry Reps, please immediately abandon any Tempus-like ideas… No PUDiS systems nor TraumaStations either… I’ve come across the two latter at the NATO STO website… SOF Medics and “ninja” docs are better off building their medical kits on their own! Commercial kits generally contain weaker elements, and when it comes to all-in-one systems like Tempus, ultrasound does not belong to their strengths…
If you have any comments or suggestions don’t hesitate to get in touch! Please know I don’t represent any government authorities. I am just a grateful ED doc whose heart is in the right place…
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