How to buy the right ultrasound machine for your needs
Ultrasound machines are as diverse as the functions they perform.
They can be highly specialised and suited to very limited applications or jacks of all trades. They can be large, immovable beasts or compact, mobile units capable of being carried across the countryside. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your options before you start talking to suppliers.
How specialised does your machine need to be?
Do you have one specific need with your machine? Or are your requirements more diverse? While there are many versatile options, an ultrasound machine specifically designed for cardiac, OB/GYN or veterinary work will most likely have more features aligned with the peculiar needs of its specialisation.
Do you need to be mobile?
Will much of your ultrasound work be at remote sites? A mobile ultrasound unit is a workable solution, though its portability comes at a cost; that being more limited capabilities. Only one transducer can generally be connected at a time. In their quest for less size and weight, portable ultrasound machines also tend to come with miniaturised keyboards and dual or triple function keys. This can make usage rather complex and annoying if you're not used to it.
Will you be based exclusively in practice rooms?
Stationery, installed ultrasound machines generally offer far more diverse functions than mobile units and can be more versatile or specialised depending on your needs. Preferences should be based on your primary application and quality requirements. While plenty of ultrasound units can do a perfectly good OB scan, machines designed specifically for OB practices will deliver better quality scans in less time than more general purpose units.
What's worked for you in the past?
If you're using an ultrasound system at the moment, what do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Is it user-friendly? What's the image quality like? Giving your current system a thorough critique will help you fine tune your essentials list for a new machine when you start talking to suppliers.
Is training provided?
If you're venturing into unknown territory with a new unit you need to be sure the supplier offers adequate training to get you and your staff up to speed. This may only need to be basis training on what knobs do what, but the more sophisticated the machine, the more intensive the training needs to be before your practice flies solo.