Intelligent Network for Point-of-Care Ultrasound and The Rural PoCUS Strategy

Patients in rural areas of British Columbia must often travel to larger centres to access diagnostic services. Intelligent Network for Point-of-Care Ultrasound (IN PoCUS) equips rural healthcare practitioners with a Wi-Fi-enabled handheld ultrasound probe and IN PoCUS training for use in their local and remote community clinics and emergency departments. This expands practitioners’ ability to diagnose select conditions in a timely manner in low-resource settings, much closer to patients’ homes. In addition to building local imaging capacity in rural BC, IN PoCUS practitioners are also building an anonymized database 

of ultrasound images, called “picture archiving and communication systems” (PACS), for provincial reference and quality assurance.

The Rural POCUS Strategy aims to incorporate the learnings, relationships and gains made throughout the IN PoCUS project to support and inform the creation of a rural, province wide plan to make POCUS available to everyone practising and living in a rural, remote or Indigenous community across BC, therefor increasing access to care, betterment of provider and patient relationships, and the overall health of individuals.

Our Achievements

C

Completed the IN PoCUS project

The IN PoCUS project was completed in 2021-22 and the qualitative study on the project has been accepted for publication in the British Medical Journal Open. This study conducted in-depth virtual interviews with 21 general practitioners across rural BC on participants’ motivation to participate in the RCCbc program, the type of training they received, their current use of PoCUS, their experience with the technology, and their experience interacting with specialists in regional centres.

C

Improved use of archiving

The project established an ongoing relationship with Change Healthcare to continue to improve the PACS system so it will be accessible and useful to rural users for another three years. The image archiving component of IN PoCUS has also partnered with the Echo project for rural communities, which will only strengthen the uptake of this new workflow and help shift the culture of PoCUS to archiving images. This, in turn, will advance efforts to ensure ongoing quality assurance and improvement.  

C

Partnered with Real-Time Virtual Support

IN PoCUS partnered with Hands On Ultrasound Education (HOUSE) and Real-Time Virtual Support to offer PoCUS Practice Support sessions to rural providers who use ultrasound. A total of 20 sessions were held and attendees were providers from across BC. 

C

Provided rural PoCUS rounds

The RCCbc Rural POCUS Strategy along side UBC Continuing Professional Development offer free, virtual, and accredited, monthly rounds based on rurally focused PoCUS topics, learnings, and situations. The rounds include presentation-style learning and time for volunteered case studies. Attendees have an opportunity to share real life scans and work through specific scenarios. More than 10 sessions have been held so far, with over 200 separate registrants.

C

Rural PoCUS Survey

The Rural PoCUS Strategy team created a survey to better understand the current state of use of PoCUS in rural BC with the hope of understanding the attitudes about and barriers to using PoCUS. The answers provided by hundreds of rural physicians will inform the development and improvement of medical education and practice supports for rural clinicians in BC using PoCUS. The survey was also conducted for research purposes and the responses are currently being collated and populated to tell the story of rural PoCUS and inform changes.

Making a Difference

PoCUS has been welcomed with open arms in rural British Columbia. 

“While the IN PoCUS project has come to an end, the connections and linkages it has created will continue to live on in other RCCbc initiatives, such as the RTVS group, the Rural POCUS Strategy, and the Echo project. We anticipate continued interest and growth in the already POCUS curious, rural landscape of BC,” says Dr. Virginia Robinson, who leads IN PoCUS.  

Dr. Lori Adamson, a general practitioner in Salmon Arm who attended one of the RTVS PoCUS Practice sessions was happy to be involved. She says: “It is really nice to be able to access valuable and applicable skills in ultrasound, no matter where I live in British Columbia.” 

Team Members

Dr. Virginia Robinson
Dr. Virginia Robinson
Dr. Tracy Morton
Dr. Tracy Morton
Tracey DeLeeuw

Tracey DeLeeuw

Administrative Assistant, Rural Research