A new health-tech company has enabled doctors to perform ultrasounds on self-isolating patients.
Butterfly Network has created a portable ultrasound probe named Butterfly iQ that can perform medical images from anywhere. The technology is simply plugged into a mobile device, then a doctor can guide the movement of the probe by taking advantage of augmented reality.
The patient follows arrows superimposed over their body on the screen, making it easy for them to position the probe for doctors to examine.
VP of products at the company Matthew de Jonge told KTLA5: “One of the applications that most excites us is the ability now to bring ultrasound in a controlled way to the home.
“We sometimes think of (Butterfly iQ) as the first major update to the stethoscope, which was invented 200 years ago and hasn’t changed much.”
Butterfly is now launching a TeleGuidance platform to help doctors using technology.
De Jonge added: “We wanted to avoid things like move left, my left, your left. It gets messy quickly and with ultrasound positioning the probe appropriately on the body is essential.”
Emergency room doctor Dr. Mike Stone, who also serves as Butterfly’s director of education, praised the new technology. He said: “I think we’re finding – much like we’re finding that much of our work can be done remotely – that much of medicine can be done over telemedicine as opposed to a discrete office visit.”
Dr. Stone told Yahoo: “I thought initially I would use it in the ER getting images for teaching. Now it’s the only device I use. I carry with me the ability to not have to push a big cart into a room, and the ability to wipe it down immediately after use.”
The handheld scanner costs $2,000, which is around 50 times less than the price of a typical ultrasound machine. Butterfly iQ is now active at over 30 high-priority locations across the USA, including coronavirus testing centers, intensive care units, and emergency departments. The company’s devices can also be found in 20 different countries around the world.
While it can’t be widely purchased yet, the device could be prescribed by a doctor for home checkups on an existing condition.
It isn’t just doctors that have access to the technology. Butterfly iQ can also be used by nurses or orderlies who don’t have the correct training to use full ultrasound equipment.
The single probe, which can also help with vascular access and putting in central lines, delivers a 2D array of 9000 micro-machined sensors – enough to emulate any type of transducer.
Butterfly’s app has 29 presets and familiar touch interactions to put users at ease, and all data is encrypted to protect patients. The probe doesn’t subject patients to radiation, either – it’s a fantastic new way of improving the ultrasound experience.
“When we have telemedicine that can enable the same quality of care that’s possible in a hospital, then I think that’s a real milestone for society and technology,” de Jonge added.
Atrium Health announced it was widely using the devices as of mid-May to help in its assessments of COVID-19 patients.
Atrium Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Rasu Shrestha said in a statement: “The Butterfly iQ devices have already given Atrium Health greater abilities in screening and monitoring COVID-19 patients by providing an immediate and clear picture of what’s happening in a patient’s lungs.
“But we see its benefit going well beyond the current pandemic. Our teams are already using it to provide care for heart patients, and we anticipate this device ushering in a new era of frontline care.”