There's a great line in the movie Philadelphia in which Denzel Washington says "Explain it to me like I'm a 6-year old". It's been going through my head since Saturday.
I spent some time in the office this weekend, and my inquisitive 8-year old daughter wanted to see what an ultrasound could do (besides 4D babies). I was going over an ATL HDI 5000, Voluson 730, and wanted to spend time with the Terason t3000 I'd received just a few days prior. I told her I'd show her the inside of her body if she was interested.
After spending time on the other two units, we came to the Terason.
"Is that your computer?" She says. (I bought a MacBook Pro last year.)
"No, but close. It's an ultrasound." I replied.
"You mean like those big things?" she referred to the HDI 5000 and Voluson 730.
"Yeah, but this one is better," I said as I pressed the side keys to release the ultrasound console in a hydraulic-like fashion.
"A-A-A-AWESOME!" She said.
Hearing her reaction, I stood up straighter, smiled broadly, and was really proud... well, for all the wrong reasons. You see, daddy's work just got a lot cooler and, well, it felt great for daddy's ego. Five minutes prior, we spent time watching her carotid artery and jugular... listening to the vein and artery and watching the blood flow through them in all their red and blue glory. Sure, this was cool to her and very educational... but the James Bond ultrasound was a quadruple-"a" "Awesome". Brushed aluminum and things that slide from nowhere are, apparently, much cooler than anatomy. WhatEver!
So it was time to push it a little. I wanted to see if she could figure out this Terason... I figured that if she can figure it out, it's unlikely that a physician new to ultrasound will struggle.
I asked her to turn on color Doppler. Her finger hovered above the "C" on the console, then she looked at me, not scared, but unsure. I told her to go with her instinct. She pushed C and up came a color box. Unafraid. This is important folks.
She smiled. A REALLY big smile. I was proud for the right reasons this time.
I looked at my wife and said "I wish I had a video camera, but I doubt anyone would believe this is her first time using this." Of course, while I'd like to think my daughter is the most brilliant kid on Earth (duh, she totally is).... the point is that the Terason is NOT THAT HARD. I realized that Terason got this right. Yeah, I'm a nerd for being excited, but when trying to sell something to a person who's never used an ultrasound before, EASE OF USE is nearly as important as Image Quality. Frustration leads to bad studies and inefficiency. That's not good when you're driving a needle into someone's body.
So I told my daughter that I wanted to hear her carotid, and she'd need to turn on Pulsed Wave Doppler. She looks down for two seconds and tentatively presses PW.
The sound comes.
Her smile got bigger.
Excited and intrigued, I walked over to the Voluson i we have in-stock, and saw the softkey buttons in different locations; what I once thought was cool (Voluson i) became frustrating and overcooked ... its user interface is just like the Logiq i and Vivid i. I walked back to the Terason: It's elegant. Not perfect, but elegant and functional. Nice.
We stepped over to a Vivid 7. I looked down and didn't want to crush my daughter's now-lifted ego. I didn't need to ask her. I turned it on and before I could say anything, she said "I don't think I can do this one, daddy." Maybe its size was intimidating, I don't know. I imaged her heart on the short axis and told her: "This is what your heart would like if I cut you in a half with a light saber."
OK, so I lose the "dad of the year award," but it was really funny at the time.
So what's the point here?
Techs enjoy consoles. I enjoy the console, and the Terason console is really great for a compact HCU (hand carried ultrasound). But today's market is growing rapidly in the Physician area and I think they'll be like my daughter: Totally comfortable with the Terason because it feels friendly and is friendly. Techs will be the ones who might be a little more tentative at first, while Physicians will likely be relieved. The console serves both sides well. This unit is simply an extension of the PC (When you boot the system, you get a Windows XP desktop, and you can run it completely from the keyboard if you choose). The console is very functional with fewer softkeys than the GE. It's labeled well and acts like any other PC application (because it is a PC application). However, just as if you're coming from any cart-based system: remember that there's only 12-inches to work with, not 24. Things need to be compressed. Get a console if you want a console. If you need portable, you're remiss if you don't call Terason.
Clearly, SonoSite understands this as well, they've taken most of the buttons OFF their machines that are going to physicians. GE adds more. Philips doesn't have anything.
Terason one-ups the latestby using the common, most user-friendly (and coolest) PC on the market: The MacBook Pro.
In the coming week I hope to get a video out on this system and post it for you. I'm also going to do an update on the Portable Ultrasound Market. SonoSite's new products, the t3000 release (Siemens licensed version that will be the Acuson P50), and some rumblings about Zonare have begun to tilt this market in new directions (FINALLY!).
As always, contact me with questions.