A Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) Rural Point-of-care Ultrasound (POCUS) survey has found widespread POCUS use in rural BC.
Close to 90% of those surveyed reported ready access to an ultrasound machine and two-thirds scanned patients at least once a day.
Launched in the fall of 2021, the survey was designed to determine how this practice-changing, innovative technology is being used throughout the province. Surveys were sent to over 1,000 rural clinicians, who answered questions about POCUS education, how it is being used and how often, and what supports might be required to improve comfort and safety. Historically performed within diagnostic imaging departments, technology improvements and reduced costs have allowed ultrasound to be brought to the bedside.
Dr. Tracy Morton, the clinical co-lead of the POCUS Project with RCCbc, said: “Data analysis is ongoing, but when asked how they are using it, many providers reported diagnosing aortic aneurysms, intra-abdominal bleeding and many lung conditions, including pneumothorax and congestive heart failure. Most using it state that POCUS makes a difference to their clinical impression or helps make a clinical decision in half the time. A key finding is that more educational offerings are needed to learn how to incorporate POCUS into day-to-day practice.”
Most using it state that POCUS makes a difference to their clinical impression or helps make a clinical decision in half the time. A key finding is that more educational offerings are needed to learn how to incorporate POCUS into day-to-day practice.Dr. Tracy Morton
POCUS is now being used by an array of physicians from emergency to critical care, to pediatrics and general practitioners. When incorporated into the physical exam, POCUS allows for greater diagnostic accuracy, safer procedures, and earlier treatment of time-critical conditions. Considering that many rural and Indigenous British Columbians do not have access to diagnostic ultrasound within their home community, POCUS has the potential to address health care inequities for these underserved populations.
As part of its effort to promote more widespread use of POCUS in rural BC, RCCbc provides numerous initiatives for rural doctors.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, RCCbc worked with Clarius, as a part of the SuperCluster, IN POCUS project, led by Dr. Virginia Robinson, to distribute over 50 handheld ultrasound probes, which have been useful in the diagnosis and management of conditions at the bedside.
POCUS practice support has also become increasingly available through the Real-Time Virtual Support services with weekly lunch-time live scanning and Q&A sessions offered by Dr. Virginia Robinson to rural practitioners. Advocacy for expansion of POCUS within the undergraduate medical curriculum at UBC has led to the development of POCUS electives at both urban and rural sites within BC. And partnering with UBC Continuing Professional Development, the Rural POCUS Rounds teach core POCUS knowledge and skills virtually to clinicians throughout BC and across Canada.
Draw prizes for those who completed the POCUS survey were provided by GE Healthcare and Philips, which each provided free trials of their handheld ultrasounds, while Clarius provided the grand prize, a free curvilinear handheld device. The final draw prize was an Apple iPad.
RCCbc is pleased to announce the following winners:
- Pawel Makarewicz, Powell River – Clarius C3 handheld probe
- Roberta Creighton, Invermere – Philips Lumify handheld probe trial
- Julia Low Ah Kee, Bella Coola – GE Vscan Air handheld probe trial
- Alessandra Benigno, Prince George – Apple iPad
“Point of Care Ultrasound is a vital tool for clinical decision making in a rural setting”, says Helen Skinner, Country Manager at Clarius. “The unique form factor and wireless capabilities of these handheld devices, coupled with software and artificial intelligence that can help users quickly triage and diagnose, is making medical imaging more accessible than ever. Clarius is proud to partner with Dr. Morton and RCCbc, and believe their contribution is invaluable in making POCUS part of the standard for rural care.”
For more information about POCUS, contact Tracey Deleeuw at [email protected].