Ultrasound device for smartphones launched
A smartphone ultrasound scanner has finally been launched months after being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The MobiUS device has been designed to be used in a wide range of imaging processes, including cardiac, abdominal, fetal and pelvic.
Although the MobiUS has not been designed to replace ultrasound scanners, David Zar, the co-founder of Mobisante believes its low price will make it a popular choice among smaller health clinics.
The MobiUS is retailing at $7,495, making it cheaper than traditional ultrasound imaging systems which often cost in the range of $100,000.
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Although it is a similar price to its biggest rival, the Vscan by GE, it boasts wireless connectivity which its competitor does not, meaning it is possible to send images directly and immediately to consultants.
Approval for the device was initially given in February by the FDA, but it has taken until now for the MobiUS to meet the numerous guidelines laid down by the governing body.
However, the delay in getting the product to market has meant it is only compatible with a smartphone that is already nearly two years in age.
The MobiUS works with the touchscreen Toshiba TG01 smartphone, which runs a Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system and requires a USB 2.0 port for the ultrasound probe.
Such a requirement means at the moment, it is not compatible with more popular smartphones and their operating systems, such as Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iPhone.
It is no surprise that major players in the mobile device industry as desperate to expand their product offerings into the smartphone and tablet market, but the FDA’s lengthy approval processes mean many have been put off making the move.
Instead they have chosen to wait for the FDA to refresh its policies and processes for the regulation of mobile devices, but according to reports in Business Week magazine, that is not happening until next year.
This is not stopping mobisante, however, which plans to launch a tablet computer-compatible version of MobiUS in the near future after the company has noted client demand.
“These are tablets healthcare professionals have had at the bedside for years,” Zar told MobiHealthNews.
“[MobiUS] would be an added benefit for the platform they already have in place.
“We can also offer the full imaging solution, though, and that might appeal to smaller clinics,” he added.
“Our work has just begun, really.”
An overview of Mobisante's MobiUS device:
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Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.