A recent edition of Popular Science expounds the virtues of GE’s new ultrasound device that can save on medical expenses by having your doctor scan an area of your body in his doctor’s office. What looks like a cross between an iPod, a cell phone and a small stethoscope is really a micro ultrasound that can view your internal organs within minutes at your doctor’s office instead of having an expensive trip to the hospital.
The article states that the technology rivals that of a 250,000 dollar machine that sends many overlapping signals of sound into your body. GE says it should be due out sometime in 2010 and supposed to cost under $10,000, according to Medgadget. $10,000 may not seem like a lot, but considering a large unit is $250,000 then this is a bargain.
GE can surely make a profit marketing the many applications for this device. Rural communities and doctors that live far away from cities can use the device in their offices. Veterinarians could even use the device on farm animals far away from the office. Surely GE will be talking to the Department of Defense for use on the battlefield, or could even donate such devices to great organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross to send to disaster areas where medical equipment may be in short supply.
If the Obama administration is listening with the stimulus money for medical technologies, this device is also a great tool for sharing images between doctors if there is a need for collaboration. No extra doctor’s visits are needed if your primary care physician can simply email an image to a specialist and ask for some help.
The device is supposed to have one hour of battery life, and for a three minute diagnosis that means you can get twenty scans in on one charge. The software stores the data as MPEG and JPEG images for easy access to other handheld devices and computers. The device is doctor-friendly as the physician can record his or her voice at the time of the scan to record observations to be stored for future reference, so this is great for doctors on the go with many patients. When the device runs out of juice, simply switch out batteries on the charger that takes an hour to charge one empty battery. For a $10,000 investment, this device can not only save many doctors’ visits but can also make diagnoses more accurate. While not revolutionary yet, we can only hope that GE’s Vscan can make everyone a lot healthier in both body and wallet.