Early detection COVID-19 scanner regions revealed

Scanners to reach 48 communities outside Lower Mainland, Fraser Health not included

Clarius pocket ultrasound scanner | Photo: Submitted

Some 48 early COVID-19 detection ultrasound scanners will be located in regions outside the Lower Mainland, with a capacity to serve 33 communities.

The scanners pair a commercial ultrasound device with an online library of lung ultrasound images and a specially developed artificial intelligence algorithm to allow health care workers to give a diagnosis almost instantly.

Burnaby-based Clarius Mobile Health designed the scanners—called PoCUS, for point-of-care ultrasound.

Clarius vice-president of research and development Kris Dickie said the technology has become very useful for picking up a “twinkling” on the surface of COVID-19 patients’ lungs that indicates pneumonia.

The scanners pair a commercial ultrasound device with an online library of lung ultrasound images and a specially developed artificial intelligence algorithm to allow health care workers to give a diagnosis almost instantly.

Dr. Teresa Tsang, a project co-leader and a UBC cardiologist, professor of medicine and director of echocardiography at Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital, said use of the scanners could potentially detect COVID-19 lung changes while waiting for lab test results.

UBC has said 30-plus scanners would be distributed to urban acute care sites managed by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

It remains unknown how many would be distributed in Fraser Health, B.C.’s largest health authority.

“Our folks aren’t aware of this device,” Fraser Health spokesperson Dixon Tam said.

Outside the Lower Mainland, the distribution is as follows:

• Interior Health – 20 reaching 39% of region communities;

• Northern Health – 17 reaching 36% of region communities; and

• Vancouver Island Health – seven reaching 22% of region communities.

As well, parts of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority – the Sunshine Coast, Coast Garibaldi, Bella Bella and Bella Coola – are considered rural and four scanners have been assigned to three communities in those areas. 

The urban scanners are still being allocated and are expected to be at various VCH and Providence Health Care facilities.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo