By Lena Kauffman

TE7_tech touching screen To survive and thrive as a small critical access hospital in the rapidly changing healthcare marketplace demands versatility from not only the entire clinical team but also the medical equipment.

When 14-bed Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett, Idaho, changed its name to Valor Health and sought to expand its services to become more of a healthcare provider to its community, its leaders were faced with a real challenge. How would the hospital create new service capabilities without being able to acquire as many high-tech specialized medical devices as larger hospitals have?

Valor Health needed to attract more physicians to the hospital, but these doctors wanted a big-hospital standard of care, including bedside portable ultrasound. The newly added board-certified emergency physicians also wanted portable ultrasound with easy-to-use presets to evaluate patients themselves when the hospital’s one ultrasound technician was off duty. For births, the obstetricians wanted a device that could quickly check the baby’s position. Additionally, the hospital’s anesthesiologists needed to be able to offer ultrasound guided nerve blocks themselves in order to serve the newly contracted orthopedic and podiatric surgeons performing procedures at the hospital more efficiently.

Doug Stansberry, director of radiology at Valor Health, had the difficult task of finding a single portable, easy-to-use, and high quality ultrasound system that could meet all these disparate needs and then some. He evaluated 14 different devices before selecting the TE7 touch-enabled ultrasound system from Mindray North America, Mahway, NJ.

“We needed everything in one device,” Stansberry said. “We are a small facility so when we purchase a piece of equipment it has to fit in all of our service areas … What I liked about this device is that it is not restricted to just ER or anesthesia. You can use it for anything really.”

True portability, where the device could be quickly packed up and moved around the hospital at a moment’s notice, was a must-have element — but so was image quality. The height-adjustable TE7 had a slim profile cart, three active transducer connectors, three-second start-up from standby, built-in wireless communications, and two hours of battery life. Stansberry said he also appreciated the little touches, like its retractable electric cord that saved the staff from having to roll up a cord every time the device was moved and built-in holders for gel and sanitary wipes so that these items travelled easily with the device without getting lost.

“Mindray engineers thought through those small things, and the image quality is comparable to full-size diagnostic devices,” he said.

Just as important, the device had to have intuitive controls that would allow as many as 20 physicians initially, and possibly more down the line, to simply turn it on and use it without frustration or hours of time spent becoming experienced on the device. Instead of a keyboard, the TE7 has a 15-inch touch screen with one-touch image optimization and exam presets. As on a tablet computer or smartphone, doctors tap to open or close functions, drag to adjust parameters or move objects, pinch to zoom in or out, slide for selections, and swipe to expand the image.

“From the moment I saw this device, I was impressed with how intuitive it was to use,” Stansberry said. “With other machines, learning to use one is akin to getting a new car with unfamiliar controls. How do I turn on the lights? How do I work the heater? With this, it was so easy to just walk up and use.”

The TE7 also had ER-specific applications, including emergency medicine focused assessment with sonography in trama (EM FAST), emergency medicine abdominal (EM ABD), and Q-path for digital image recording, storing and sharing. Cardiac capabilities included continuous wave (CW) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) support. Finally, the iNeedle optimized needle visualization with dedicated nerve exam presets proved to be a hit with the hospital’s anesthesiologists. “They love the system,” Stansberry said.

The TE7 can be sterilized and has a wide range of probes for different clinical needs. “It has such a multifaceted use throughout our hospital and that makes it a really powerful tool for us to have,” Stansberry said. “When we buy a device, we need to have it in our inventory for five to 10 years, so we can’t pick a device that will work today and not tomorrow. This platform certainly met our current and future needs more than others.”


Lena Kauffman is a contributing writer for AXIS.