GE Healthcare announces its first wireless portable ultrasound device

The Vscan Air comes from a long heritage of handheld imaging devices, keeping some features like a two-sided probe while ditching all the wires.
By Dave Muoio
01:47 pm
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The Vscan Air with its smartphone app

Image courtesy of GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare has pulled back the curtain on the Vscan Air, a wireless take on the handheld ultrasound technology it first debuted more than a decade ago.

Cleared by the FDA back in November, the battery-powered device is intended for use by healthcare professionals conducting diagnostic ultrasound imaging and fluid flow analysis. It connects to a companion app downloaded to a user's personal Android or iOS device.

Similar to some of its predecessors, the tool is designed to fit in a pocket and has a simplified UI for quick uptake and training, the company said. The company's two-sided probe design for quick swapping between shallow and deep exams makes a return, and users can quickly store and share auto-anonymized images.

Shipments of the Vscan Air's dual-headed probe and its accessories are set to begin on April 1, according to GE Healthcare's product page. While pricing varies between regions, the base package is listed as a $4,495 purchase in the U.S.

WHY IT MATTERS

Convenience and speed are the name of the game when it comes to handheld ultrasound systems. By keeping the device on their person, healthcare providers can conduct examinations and make decisions more quickly, which frees them up either to spend more time speaking with a patient or move on to other cases.

“Now more than ever, clinicians need smaller and smarter tools that increase access and efficiency both in and outside of the four walls of the hospital,” Anders Wold, president and CEO of global ultrasound at GE Healthcare, said in a statement.

“The Vscan Air exemplifies customer-driven innovation that enables more personalized care for patients worldwide. We pioneered handheld ultrasound when we brought the first pocket-sized ultrasound with color Doppler to market, and now we see Vscan Air as delivering on the future of healthcare at a time when ultrasound has proven to be an essential tool at the point of care.”

THE LARGER TREND

The Vscan brand has made a dent in the portable ultrasound market over the years. GE Healthcare said that it has delivered more than 30,000 of the device's various iterations to clinicians since 2010.

However, perhaps the first handheld ultrasound company on digital health watchers' mind would be Butterfly Health Network, maker of the roughly $2,000 Butterfly iQ device and an accompanying workflow platform.

The company very recently announced and closed a merger with SPAC Longview Acquisition Corp, and is now valued at more than $3 billion.

A small handful of other startups have also placed their crosshairs on ultrasound scanners for physicians on the go. Silicon Valley-based Exo raised $40 million from investors about half a year ago to wrap up its product development, while Clarius Mobile Health released its latest device, the Clarius L20 HD, in September.

Also worth a mention during the ultrasound tech discussion is Caption Health, a startup building artificial intelligence software that guides practitioners through imaging and interpretation. The FDA gave Caption's tool a De Novo clearance just over a year ago, and investors showered the Brisbane, California company with $53 million just a few months later.

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