Sonography: There's an App for That

By Caitlin Browne,

By now you're used to using your smartphone to check weather updates, watch YouTube videos, and find reviews of your neighborhood's new sushi restaurant. But did you know you could also use a smartphone to conduct an ultrasound or study sonography? A new series of apps could revolutionize the way sonographers approach their work and study.

Ultrasound with a smartphone?

Mobisante Inc. made a big splash in the technology and health care industries with its debut of the first ever smartphone-based ultrasound imaging system, called the MobiUS SP1 system. Based on the premise that bringing ultrasound technology directly to a patient will reduce costs and expand the accessibility of care, MobiUS makes it possible for emergency responders to make basic diagnoses on-site rather than wait until the patient arrives at a hospital, or send ultrasound images ahead to the hospital so that doctors there can prepare for the patient's arrival. MobiUS also allows rural physicians to monitor a pregnancy at a patient's home, rather than send them to a distant medical center, or for doctors to check patients for kidney stones or aneurysms during a routine physical exam.

MobiUS received FDA clearance in 2011 and has already won several awards, including an award for the Best M-Health Innovation at Mobile World Congress and a 2013 Leaders in Health Care Award from Seattle Business Magazine. Its CEO and co-founder Sailesh Chutani used to work in research at Microsoft, but grew frustrated at the company's slow pace in bringing ideas into action. Chutani joined with researcher David Zar of Washington University in St. Louis to form Mobisante, and the two hope that their device will make ultrasound technology accessible to many more people throughout the world.

Due to security issues and HIPAA compliance, MobiUS is currently only available on specially modified devices provided by Mobisante. Still, the idea that the technology we carry in our pockets every day can be harnessed for saving lives and improving medical outcomes opens the door to exciting new possibilities for the future of health care.

Mobile ultrasound classes

In addition to the Mobisante technology, several apps have hit the market to supplement ultrasound technology. Fraunhofer IBMT developed a mobile sonography app available for iPhones and iPads that processes raw ultrasound data and helps users analyze, store, and send ultrasound information over email. There are also a number of apps that help ultrasound technicians study and review ultrasound procedures. One Minute Ultrasound, an app developed by the people behind The Ultrasound Podcast, offers one-minute presentations and video lectures on ultrasound techniques, and has a four-star rating on iTunes. There's also an ARDMS Ultrasound Flashcards for Board Review app to help students prepare for their ARDMS exams. Available in OB/GYN; Abdomen; Physics or Sonography Principles and Instrumentation varieties, the app offers a set of hundreds of flash cards for studying.

As mobile devices continue to become more and more indispensable in every corner of our lives, for everything from storing family photos to chatting with friends to tracking finances, sonography is no exception. Once restricted to clunky machines and oversized textbooks, ultrasound technicians can now let mobile ultrasound devices change the way they learn and practice their craft. These apps are available on the iTunes Store, Google Play and the Android Store.

Sources

"ARDMS Ultrasound Flashcards Board REview Lite," iTunes, 2013, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ardms-ultrasound-flashcards/id595147470?mt=8
"Coming Next: Using an App as Prescribed," New York Times, August 19, 2011, Joshua Brustein, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/20/technology/coming-next-doctors-prescribing-apps-to-patients.html
"iPad/iPhone App for Mobile Signal Processing and Imaging Based on Ultrasound Raw Data," Innovations Report, April 11, 2011, Annette Maurer, http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/trade_fair_news/ipad_iphone_app_mobile_signal_processing_imaging_185121.html
"Mobile and Accessible Ultrasound Imaging," Mobisante, 2011, http://www.mobisante.com/
"Mobile World: Mobisante Wins Global Mobile Award," Seattle Times, February 17, 2011, Sharon Chan, http://seattletimes.com/html/microsoftpri0/2014254062_mobile_world_mobisante_wins_global_mobile_award.html
"One Minute Ultrasound," iTunes, 2012, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/one-minute-ultrasound/id512301845?mt=8
"Smartphone Ultrasound Device Launches Commercially," Mobi Health News, October 10, 2011, Brian Dolan, http://mobihealthnews.com/13767/smartphone-ultrasound-device-launches-commercially/
"Ultrasound Gets More Portable," Technology Review, November 29, 2010, Sandra Swanson, http://www.technologyreview.com/news/421827/ultrasound-gets-more-portable/
"Ultrasound Research Offline App by Fraunhofer IBMT," iTunes, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ultrasound-research-offline/id476281293?mt=8
"2013 Leaders in Health Care, Innovation in Medical Devices," Seattle Business Magazine, March 2013, Gianni Truzzi, http://seattlebusinessmag.com/article/2013-leaders-health-care-innovation-medical-devices

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