As ultrasound units are increasingly being moved between and within hospital departments, a new premium is being placed on the mobility of ultrasound equipment, according to a new report from KLAS.
In “Ultrasound: Waves of Change”, KLAS highlights the opinions of more than 200 healthcare providers who share their experiences using ultrasound units from GE, Philips, Siemens, Toshiba, ZONARE and other vendors. The report notes that instead of image quality and price being the primary factors in system selection, providers are now looking for units that offer greater mobility, reliability and an ergonomic design that suits clinician workflow.
“The safety and increasing quality of ultrasound images have given the technology wide application in areas like breast imaging and surgical procedures, but many of those departments don’t or can’t have their own ultrasound machine,” said Emily Crane, KLAS research director and author of the new report. “In turn, the radiology department is looking for more mobile units that still offer good penetration, so they can safely take the imaging to the patient.”
While no ultrasound vendor has delivered the ultimate package of mobility and image penetration, the KLAS report points out that ZONARE has emerged as a real option in general imaging. Though not currently viewed as the core ultrasound platform for imaging departments, ZONARE is compared to larger ultrasound vendors in more and more selections for its range of functionality and mobility, as well as its ability to augment ultrasound fleets at half the per-unit cost of other offerings.
In KLAS performance ratings, GE with its LOGIQ 9 ultrasound machine and Toshiba with the Aplio finished a very close first and second, respectively. Customers touted product quality and top-notch field support as strengths of both vendors. In addition, many GE clients expressed excitement about the new image fusion technology available with the LOGIQ E9. The technology, which overlays – or “fuses” – ultrasound images with images captured by MR or CT machines, can be especially applicable for lesion biopsies and similar procedures.
The KLAS report also profiles the latest ultrasound offerings from Philips and Siemens. While the Philips iU22 is one of the largest ultrasound platforms, making it tougher to maneuver than smaller machines, the iU22 received the fewest negative comments regarding penetration and image quality. However, providers also noted that Philips has been the victim lately of buggy releases, though most clients are confident in the company’s ability to remain a leader in the industry.
For its part, Siemens’ introduction of the ACUSON S2000 – the successor to the ACUSON Sequoia – has brought with it high expectations, and early reviews have cited advanced automation and ergonomics as solid improvements. To date, though, the S2000 has been beset by reliability problems that have proven to be frustrating for some providers.