Royal Philips and PURE (Point-of-care Ultrasound in Resource-limited Environments), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing ultrasound education and use in the developing world, highlighted a unique tele-ultrasound mentorship program to provide much needed diagnostic ultrasound training to health workers in Rwanda. Expert training and mentorship in point-of-care ultrasound imaging supports Rwanda’s front-line primary and emergency care system and improves access to care for its citizens.
Ultrasound is considered to be one of the most important technologies to improve access to care in limited resource settings. This is particularly relevant in many practice settings across Africa, which bears 25% of the global burden of disease but has less than 2% of the health workers . PURE has been working in Rwanda since 2011 to provide ultrasound training. However, there are many barriers to overcome when implementing an ultrasound training program in a resource-scare setting that is thousands of miles away.
Philips Lumify with Reacts tele-ultrasound is helping PURE to breakdown some of those barriers. Leveraging the unique live-streaming tele-ultrasound capabilities of Philips’ Lumify with Reacts (a portable point-of-care ultrasound solution), the PURE mentoring program in Rwanda connects a team of Europe and US-based physicians that are experts in point-of-care ultrasound with emergency medicine residents at the University Hospital of Kigali. Rwanda is helping to lead in access to universal healthcare coverage and in the development of emergency medicine as a specialty in East Africa. The doctors that are trained by PURE act as ultrasound ambassadors who can train primary care and emergency medical workers throughout the rest of the country and beyond.
“The Rwandese healthcare system has a rapidly developing emergency care infrastructure but still experiences challenges with limited rapid diagnostic capabilities, yet diagnostic imaging is essential in providing specialist-level care for the majority of acute illnesses and injuries presenting,” said Dr. Trish Henwood, President and Co-Founder of PURE and a specialist in emergency medicine and ultrasound. “The goal of this new tele-ultrasound mentorship program is to get our mentors and mentees better connected, helping to greatly increase the number of physicians we can train, and sustainably develop ultrasound expertise at the point-of-care throughout Rwanda.”
“The role of point-of-care ultrasound in improving emergency medicine in Rwanda is really important. We have a limited number of radiologists that we can call on to perform scans, and as a result there is often a delay in providing care to patients,” said Dr. Vincent Ndebwanimana, Emergency Care Physician at the University of Rwanda. “Now I can make the emergency diagnosis myself so that I can much better fulfil my responsibility as an emergency physician.”
“Ultrasound is an important first-line diagnostic tool, but may be limited by the capabilities of the user conducting and interpreting the scan,” said Bich Le, Business Leader Ultrasound, Philips. “At Philips, we are focused on providing ultrasound tools that aid in answering key clinical questions simply and quickly and we continue to believe that sustainable education is critical to increasing access to ultrasound and improving healthcare globally.”
Philips’ Lumify with Reacts point-of-care ultrasound solution, which works in conjunction with a compatible smartphone or tablet, is the world’s first ultra-portable ultrasound device with advanced telehealth capabilities. The Reacts communications platform enables two-way audio-visual calls with live ultrasound streaming, so both parties can simultaneously view the live ultrasound image and probe positioning, while discussing and interacting at the same time.
Lumify with Reacts is already an integral part of Philips’ outreach kit for its Community Life Center program, which aims to improve community and primary health across Africa by providing key tools and services for the continent’s health workers and midwives. Philips is a global leader and trailblazer in connected care solutions that support healthcare systems and improve access to care for millions of people across the world. Its other ground-breaking telehealth solutions include home monitoring systems for chronic disease patients and patient monitoring in electronic intensive care units (eICUs), as well as multiple tele-radiology applications.