Soon Your Doctor Will Pull Out His Phone to Give You an Ultrasound

Illustration for article titled Soon Your Doctor Will Pull Out His Phone to Give You an Ultrasound

MobiUS is a simple medical ultrasound imaging system like many others—but it has one rather astonishing plus: All you need is the wand, some gel, and a smartphone.


Mobisante is the firm behind the new technology, and it's just announced that the MobiUS has received FDA approval for use in the U.S. MobiUS is, according to its makers, the "world's first" smartphone-based commercial ultrasound imaging system, offering a degree of portability rarely seen before for this type of non-invasive medical imaging. It's also much more affordable than traditional ultrasound systems, which typically take up a whole roller-tray of space in doctor's offices. And, while they do offer more precise tools and a larger viewscreen, traditional models seem to rely on dedicated hardware that costs more to produce and run than a simple smartphone.

MobiUS, in contrast, is small enough to slip into a bag, and thanks to the Wi-Fi and cell phone services offered by the Windows Mobile system in the accompanying smartphone, it's actually easier to share digital images with other clinicians for consults, and with the parents of unborn babies. The size, simplicity, and portability of the device is key for Mobisante's plans to boost the powers of rural and remote medical professionals, who may suffer from limited resources, and it's exactly the kind of device that could provide useful medical data in an emergency situation far from the coziness of the ER or ob-gyn unit.

Considering that the FDA also just approved its first iPhone app, MobileMIM (designed to help doctors view and assess diagnostic imagery in rich interactive ways not possible with printouts), it seems the smartphone—and its larger cousin the tablet—will be a more standard feature of your doctor's medical toolset in the future. It also seems the FDA is moving to regulate the scene, which is a vital move considering the wealth of non-approved medical apps that are already available on the market.

Illustration for article titled Soon Your Doctor Will Pull Out His Phone to Give You an Ultrasound

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I've actually dreamed of having something like this in my white coat pocket in the hospital, but unfortunately, that's not going to happen

These days, you need special certification to smear a patients poo on a card to see if there's blood in it. It used to be that every medical intern carried a ton of these cards and the developing solution, and could quickly do a rectal exam, smear some poo, and figure out if the patient had any gastrointestinal bleeding. Now, poo has to be sent to a lab to do this with proper quality controls and technique.

Why is this relevant? There's no way that liability insurers or major hospitals will allow doctors to do diagnostic ultrasounds with equipment that is not approved, tested, and maintained and quality controlled on a regular basis. There's be a huge lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, and Mobisante after the first time that someone missed appendicitis on their tiny iphone screen. Maybe in a third world country, where this is the only option...

There are electronic stethoscopes with playback and amplification features that are slowly becoming more popular. Find me a way to interface one of those with an iphone, and we'll talk