Portable ultrasound devices are a type of digital ultrasound diagnostic imaging system but instead of a big machine, these machines are tiny and can be carried anywhere. Due to its unique characteristics and ease of use, they have already gained popularity. People are even using them at home. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have any drawbacks. They do and today we will talk about what to expect in the future from these portable handheld ultrasound devices.
Types of Portable Ultrasound Devices
“Portable” is a broad term. A device that weighs 5KG is portable, so it is a device that weighs less than a pound. But carrying around a 5KG machine everywhere is a hassle while carrying the device that weighs less than a pound is no trouble at all. The broad term for handheld ultrasound devices “portable” can be divided into 3 types.
The first type is the Laptop and like every other laptop, they weigh somewhere between 10 to14 pounds. These can be brought to a patient’s bedside. The second type is called the hand-carried system. As the name suggests, they can be easily carried by hand and they weigh between 5 to 8 pounds. Sonosite, one of the top portable ultrasound device manufacturers, has made a niche in this category. The third type is called the handheld portable ultrasound device. They weigh less than a pound and doctors can carry them everywhere.
What to Expect in the Future?
The portable ultrasound medical imaging device market shows an annual growth of 15 to 20 percent. This is expected to continue until the market becomes saturated. The big question now is whether we can expect a second wave of growth or not. The primary care market is expected to grow if handheld devices become standard, like stethoscopes. The main drawback to this is the price. Good handheld devices cost way too much already. But if the competition grows, the price will go down.
Another possible growth market is the pre-hospital, e.g. paramedics. Ambulances usually are filled with equipment and it will be a good sign if the paramedics use handheld devices before getting the patient to the hospital.
The handheld device manufacturing companies don’t want to put little handheld devices into everyone’s hands without proper training. Price will eventually go down but what to do about training? Who will train the physicians to use these devices? These devices matter a lot because people’s lives may depend on them and an untrained professional misreads data, it could be fatal. But we can still hope that if the need arises for the wide use of handheld devices, people will learn to use them properly.
Some manufacturers are trying to rely on AI and Deep Learning algorithms to find a solution to this problem. Using the image recognition technique, the device will be able to give guidance on organ detection and the correct placement of the transducer.
The portable ultrasound device market is still growing and there are a lot of opportunities ahead but they aren’t designed to work with a high performance like the bulky ultrasound machines. But as we said, there are a lot of opportunities to explore so we can hope that maybe someday they will become much powerful.