Although ultrasound is faster, cheaper than other methods of medical imaging such as a CT scan or MRI, it is underutilized as a medical diagnostic tool. Handheld ultrasound is helping to change that.
With the introduction of handheld ultrasound, the application of ultrasound across care areas is expanding. For example, during the COVID-19 global health crisis, handheld ultrasound was found to be an important tool in triaging patients right at the bedside in order to accelerate care. It is likely that this trend of broader ultrasound usage will continue, with healthcare professionals becoming increasingly skilled in applying ultrasound in a greater variety of care areas and situations.
Ultrasound technology and devices are following a path of continued miniaturization, with increasing computing power. However, it’s not simply a case that the smaller the screen, the better. With smaller sizes handheld devices are more portable and easier to carry around with you throughout the day, yet the screen can play a critical role in the scanning and diagnosis process and so needs to be of sufficient size. With increased computing power, image quality (regardless of screen size) should continue to improve over time, making images clear for accurate diagnoses to be made.
Over time, wireless technology will become more pervasive with handheld ultrasound systems. This will enhance portability, ease of use, and ability to clean the device.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Learning Technologies
Clinicians expect critical visual information to help enable more accurate and confident clinical decisions for the next step in diagnosis. With this in mind, AI and other intelligent learning technologies will continue to play a role in the further evolution of handheld ultrasound capabilities, most likely seen with enhancements in the area of automated measurements. Technology may also be used to minimize subjective operator tendencies.
Network of Users and Experts
As the world around us increases in interconnectivity, expanded networks of handheld ultrasound users and experts may provide support, collaboration, and secondary opinions when needed.
Image Quality and Ease-of-Use
As part of the above trends, expect image quality and ease-of-use to further improve over time, making handheld ultrasound even more convenient. Handheld ultrasound is changing the game, making ultrasound more accessible for many healthcare professionals across clinical specialties.