Our People Research

Point-of-Care Ultrasound saving lives in rural BC

Dr. Oron Frenkel uses the point-of-care ultrasound device on a patient.

It all started with an idea from Dr. Oron Frenkel, Director of Emergency Point-of-Care Ultrasound Program, St. Paul’s Hospital.

He wanted to connect existing ultrasound and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to solve a big problem: diagnosing conditions in real time in almost every part of the body, from anywhere.  

The team at Providence Health Care Ventures, part of Providence Health Care, worked to make this dream a reality via the Digital Technology Supercluster

It partnered with Clarius, St. Paul’s Foundation, Change Healthcare, the University of British Columbia and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC to create the Intelligent Network for Point-of-Care Ultrasound (PoCUS).  

PoCUS has resulted in life-saving care for patients in rural and remote settings, providing access to diagnostic imaging and enabling clinicians to interpret scans and share data that was previously unavailable.  

Reduces need for patient travel

This reduces the need for patients to travel for imaging tests, and increases the ability for physicians to make informed decisions about triaging and expediting care.  

Taylor Alexander and her daughter.

One woman’s experience with PoCUS – Taylor Alexander, midwife, Salt Spring Island 

“For many mothers-to-be, I’m their primary care provider during this wonderful but stressful time of their lives. I feel privileged to support them and their families through their day-to-day care and in emergency situations. I support these mothers through their pregnancy journey with the goal of delivering their babies close to home, when I can. 

Salt Spring Island isn’t geographically far away from larger city centres, but given that we’re surrounded by water, it does impact our ability to get clients adequate care in a timely manner – both day-to-day and in emergencies. 

I’m able to bring immediate care to families on Salt Spring with a handheld point of care ultrasound (PoCUS) device. It’s an absolutely invaluable tool that makes it possible to practice prenatal care, and meet many of my clients’ needs right here on the Island. 

Importantly, with PoCUS, I’m able to provide my clients with peace of mind – saving them time, stress, costs, and potential heartache. 

As a primary care provider, I have used PoCUS in many emergency situations. During a snowstorm, I received a call that a visitor to the Island was going into labour. The mother-to-be had some significant risk factors that could have affected her birth, and since she wasn’t a client of mine I was not familiar with her medical history. Fortunately I was able to use the ultrasound probe and its imaging to examine the mother and baby before delivery, giving us the necessary information to support a successful and healthy birth without the need for emergency evacuation. 

With PoCUS I can be there for women and clients in my community so they can get immediate care without additional stress. It has been an incredible asset for medical assessments. With it I can practice preventative prenatal care, and support clients close to home, decreasing the need to travel off the Island for care. 

The mothers, families, and I are very grateful to the donors who funded these handheld ultrasound machines, which are being used across the province. Like many communities in BC, we are fortunate to have St. Paul’s Hospital to help us care for patients and families.