VISIQ: Innovative ultrasound to boost healthcare access for South African mothers

Approximately 10 times smaller than a traditional ultrasound machine, it provides high quality images, is portable and easy to use, and is designed for expectant mothers in remote areas who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this type of innovative technology, or advanced care.Royal Philips has launched a new ultra-mobile ultrasound system VISIQ to the South African market. The size of a tablet, the VISIQ is the first ultra-mobile system from Philips.

Maternal screening allows for early detection of complicationsSouth Africa has cut maternal deaths from 189.5 per 100 000 births in 2009 to 132.9 per 100 000 in 2012/13. But we are still very far from meeting our international commitment to cut maternal mortality to 38 deaths per 100 000 births by 2015 as part of the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to the Philips Fabric of Africa trends report, women in Africa are at significant risk of premature death, with particular high maternal mortality rates recorded in pregnancy. Women in semi-urban and rural areas across South Africa (in fact all of Africa) often die due to preventable complications during child birth as they have no access to ultrasound screenings to detect critical conditions. Many of these deaths can be diagnosed with basic imaging technology, like the VISIQ ultrasound.

“Improving access to healthcare is high on the Philips agenda in Africa and we are very eager to contribute to improve access to quality care for all. VISIQ allows clinicians to provide ultrasound in a variety of clinical environments, offering soon-to-be parents the comfort of having regular pre-natal check-ups that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” says Jose Fernandes, general manager, Philips Healthcare Southern Africa.

Proven results in different settings

Previously launched in Kenya and Uganda, the VISIQ has proved its value in overcoming challenges unique to Africa.

First launched in Kenya, the VISIQ is estimated to have the ability to reduce infant mortality by 40%. The Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI) is a training center for diagnostic ultrasound and other imaging modalities located in Mengo Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. An official study on the use of the VISIQ found that this system represents a turning point for healthcare, in which ultrasound has been rethought to take care of the needs of emerging markets by providing a high-quality yet affordable system.

While some parameters like extreme physical conditions were not able to be covered in the test, VISIQ was considered as the answer to the outcry from low resourced countries for an ultrasound system that is high-quality, user-friendly, lightweight, easy to move from place to place, has a battery life of 2.5 hours, offers wireless connectivity to allow data transfer for consultation and e-health, and is easily serviced. As ultrasound moves into new settings in Africa, high-quality imaging through this lightweight and ultra-mobile system will prove valuable.

Not only useful in an African context, the VISIQ has opened doors in urban environments for at-home obstetrical assessment, as described in an internal White Paper study from the French market.

The Philips and Rhiza Mobile Clinic, complete with VISIQ

As clear example of their dedication to reduce child mortality rates, improve maternal health, meet the UN Millennium Development Goals four and five and revitalise South Africa’s health infrastructure, Philips launched a Mobile Clinic in May 2015, to service the populous townships of Diepsloot, Cosmo City and Orange Farm, in Northern Johannesburg.

A collaboration between Philips South Africa, Rhiza Foundation and corporate social investment partners Nozala Trust and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Philips has supplied all technology present in the Mobile Clinic, including a VISIQ ultrasound machine which is a prime example of the flexible workability of the system.

Designed for the needs of the South African market

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diagnostic imaging is crucial in healthcare. Many countries in the developing world cannot afford to purchase expensive high technology imaging equipment despite the urgent need to use imaging resources in these countries.

“There is a growing global focus on cost effective systems, smaller footprints and imaging equipment which is both easier to operate but has improved clinical functionality. The Philips VISIQ has been specifically designed with this in mind and embodies Philips’ image quality legacy, driving innovation and efficiency in ultrasound imaging. VISIQ provides high quality images for quick and reliable diagnostic decision making,” summarises Fernandes.

VISIQ’s unique combination of mobility, ease of use and image quality, will enable clinicians to perform ultrasound examinations across a variety of clinical settings. Small outpatient clinics or community centers can carry out comprehensive obstetric and abdominal scans themselves rather than referring patients to regional ultrasound centers and hospitals.

“It makes me proud to see how Philips’ cost-effective, easy to operate ultrasound systems can make a real difference in South Africa. It shows that meaningful innovations can contribute to saving people’s lives,” concludes Fernandes.

More about the VISIQ:

VISIQ’s thin, lightweight tablet has a built-in kickstand, can be placed on a bedside tray or table to view its exceptional, high-definition images;
VISIQ’s slim, ergonomically designed stand is easy to move quickly from bed to bed and carrying it from clinic to clinic is a breeze. Its slim carry bag makes transporting the system easy, allowing you to deliver high quality care, whether in traditional or remote locations;
VISIQ wakes from sleep mode and is ready to start scanning in a few seconds. Its battery life supports over 2.5 hours of back to back scanning, making on-the-go ultrasound a reality; and
Use built-in WiFi for DICOM data transfer to hospital and cloud PACS, to easily share and store images.


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