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Remote ultrasound diagnostics disrupting traditional military frontline healthcare delivery
  1. Georgina Blenkinsop1,
  2. R A Heller2,
  3. N J Carter3,
  4. A Burkett4,
  5. M Ballard5 and
  6. N Tai1,6
  1. 1JHubMed, Defence Medical Services, Lichfield, UK
  2. 24 Armoured Regiment, Defence Medical Services, Tidworth, UK
  3. 3Imaging Department, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Plymouth, UK
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA
  5. 5Department of Clinical Radiology, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  6. 6Centre for Trauma Sciences, The Royal London Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Georgina Blenkinsop, JHubMed, Defence Medical Services, Lichfield, UK; g.blenkinsop{at}nhs.net

Abstract

Accurate and reliable diagnostic capability is essential in deployed healthcare to aid decision-making and mitigate risk. This is important for both the patient and the deployed healthcare system, especially when considering the prioritisation of scarce aeromedical evacuation assets and frontline resources. Novel ultrasound tele-guidance technology presents a valuable diagnostic solution for remotely deployed military clinicians. This report discusses the first use of a consultant radiologist guiding a clinician, untrained in ultrasound, to perform an ultrasound scan via a live tele-guidance feed in the deployed environment using the Butterfly iQ+ tele-guidance system. Distance scanning provided a diagnostic quality report when compared with locally performed imaging to improve patient care and maintain operational output. This example demonstrates feasibility of remote point-of-care imaging systems in provision of location-agnostic high-quality diagnostic capability. Future opportunities to develop care pathways using bedside tele-diagnostics will democratise access, drive efficiency and improve patient care experience and outcomes.

  • telemedicine
  • ultrasonography
  • diagnostic radiology
  • primary care
  • organisational development

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @georgieblenkin1

  • Contributors GB is lead for Project Morpho responsible for conception and implementation of tele-guided ultrasound training and diagnostics in the UK Ministry of Defence. GB, RAH and NJC co-wrote and edited the article. RAH performed the forward scanning and NJC provided remote radiologist expertise. AB provided the forward equipment, instigated and supported the trial and edited the document. MB and NT are key stakeholders in Project Morpho and edited and provided overall assurance of the new diagnostic pathway being trialled.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The authors do not advocate any one commercial ultrasound system over another rather focusing on the concept of the capabilities that can be achieved to improve patient care.

  • Competing interests Some authors are engaged in placing commercial contracts in order to get sufficient equipment to test the discussed tele-diagnostic and tele-guidance concepts, and are still engaged in piloting these concepts.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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