After a few months of anticipation, GE Healthcare has announced the commercial availability of its handheld ultrasound device, Vscan, which has secured clearance from the FDA, the CE Mark from the European Union, and a Medical Device License from Health Canada. The company said it is now available in the U.S., Europe, India and Canada.
To be clear: GE's Vscan is not a wirelessly connected device, but it is certainly a mobile one.
GE describes Vscan as a "pocket-sized visualization tool developed to provide physicians with imaging capabilities at the point-of-care" that is "roughly the size of a smart phone" and includes "ultra-smart ultrasound technology." GE says the device will provide physicians with "an immediate, non-invasive method to help secure visual information about what is happening inside the body."
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, the West Wireless Health Institute's CMO Dr. Eric Topol performed what was called the first live demonstration of the GE Vscan onstage during Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs' keynote. Topol explained that the Vscan can replace traditional ultrasounds, which cost upwards of $300,000. The portable Vscan could also replace the 200 year-old stethoscope, according to Topol. Qualcomm's Jacobs went so far as to liken stethoscopes to an outdated "technology," like “buggy whips.”
During the demo Topol, a cardiologist, praised the device's image saying: "What a fantastic image — it’s comparable to any other ECHO machine. People are going to be doing their own ECHOs and sending them to their doctors in the not too distant future,” he predicted.
GE has not tipped its hand toward consumer availability of the Vscan or a similar device, but it's not too hard to envision an ultra-mobile version of an ultrasound device in the consumer's hand. After all, the 200 year-old stethoscope recently received its wireless connectivity thanks to Bluetooth and 3M. Here's a bold prediction: It won't take a few hundred years for ultra-mobile ultrasound devices to receive wireless connectivity.
It won't take nearly that long before they're in consumers hands either, but in the meantime, the Vscan is another medical device that fits back into the doctor's black bag of tools. It's one step closer to the return of the truly mobile doctor.
For more from GE Healthcare, read the Vscan launch press release