Atrium Health deploys point-of-care ultrasound to assess COVID-19 patients

POCUS technology from Butterfly Network expands screening capabilities, offering "an immediate and clear picture of what’s happening in a patient’s lungs."
By Mike Miliard
02:46 PM

Butterfly iQ point-of-care ultrasound device

Atrium Health announced this week that it's now widely using point-of-care ultrasound devices to help its assessments of COVID-19 patients.

WHY IT MATTERS
With Butterfly iQ technology – portable, single-probe, whole-body ultrasound devices developed by Butterfly Network – Atrium clinicians are able to use the tools, which connect to smartphones or tablets, to quickly examine patients in the hospital or at home.

The Butterfly iQ devices, which also help with procedures such vascular access and putting in central lines, are now active at more than 30 high-priority locations across the Charlotte, North Carolina-based health system, including COVID-19 testing centers, emergency departments, intensive care units and the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

Butterfly iQ runs on a simple platform for a more efficient ultrasound workflow, and it can integrate existing systems while staying secure with cloud-based security tools.

Unlike X-rays or CT scans, POCUS doesn't subject patients to radiation, and also reduces infection risk to hospital staff by bringing imaging to the bedside.

In addition, Butterfly iQ's portability enables healthcare practitioners to clean the device safely and move quickly between patients – something that's not possible with large ultrasound machines.

"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," said Atrium Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Rasu Shrestha, in a statement.

"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."

THE LARGER TREND
In April, we spoke with Shrestha about how the health system has transformed itself to do battle with COVID-19 – and how the pandemic might lead to lasting transformations there once the storm, hopefully, has passed.

For one thing, he said, the coronavirus crisis has put a spotlight on the ease and efficacy of connected health tools and other small and portable technologies.

"Think about it: When the last pandemic hit the United States and globally, no patient, no consumer, no clinician had smartphones in their pocket," said Shrestha. "It's a different environment right now where we're connected online."

ON THE RECORD
"Point-of-care ultrasound has played an important role in helping health systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world," said Dr. John Martin, Butterfly’s Chief Medical Officer. "We have seen it used to assess initial lung and cardiac involvement, as well as to monitor disease progression for patients isolated in urgent care facilities, quarantined in the home or even in Atrium Health’s COVID-19 Virtual Hospital."

"For decades, the mental image of a doctor has been someone with a stethoscope around their neck," said Shrestha. "Going forward, this revolutionary portable ultrasound device may be just as critical for the medical professional."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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