GE V Scan handheld ultrasound: review

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David Doherty demo’d the GE V Scan handheld ultrasound last week at the recent Healthcare Innovation Expo in London. Despite his initial skepticism since its debut in February 2010, he’s come around to seeing its virtues. Ed. Donna is surprised at seeing slow but steady sales among UK cardiologists–100 at £5000 ($8100) each. It’s also been repositioned as a ‘visualization device for quick triage’ rather than a diagnostic tool. Looking like an overgrown flip phone with a scanner on a lead, it’s limited to chest cavity, abdomen and pelvic use in the UK. For patient privacy, no names can be stored and the data/images are stored on an SD card that must be removed from the device to send via another device such as a laptop. He doesn’t compare it with Mobisante’s handheld scanner/smartphone combo which skip the SD card step, but in our 4 Feb article on Mobisante’s FDA approval, we note that it is in the same price range, if a little lower. The 3G Doctor review.


  1. Thanks for the mention/link.

    Interesting that you picked up on the SD card step. I’ve updated my post to address this as there is actually a very simple way to avoid this (

    You also make an interesting price comparison with the MobiSante product. I think this is an unfair comparison for a number of reasons eg.

    1) This is a comparison of an actual retail price Vs a estimated retail price.

    2) This doesn’t even start to deal with the important cost of ownership. If I was selling you a high mileage luxury BMW with a V8 engine would you confidently say it was going to be cheaper than a brand new VW Golf Diesel if there was a $500 difference in price?

    • Donna Cusano-Ed.

      David, thank you for your additional comments and expert POV. For our readers (and me!) please explain the ‘cost of ownership’ factor between V Scan and Mobisante as you see it.

  2. I’m definitely not an expert on U/S, more like a complete amateur excited by the potential for it’s wider use who has some experience selling medical devices. But as you’ve asked so nicely I’ll have a go at explaining some of the factors I think should be considered when assessing cost of ownership (COO):

    First up before you even get to the stage of making a diagnosis you’ve got to get a quality image and despite the TV show portrayal this isn’t all that straight forward. Obviously education is fundamental here and GE is in an enviable position of having it’s own education and training department. This is important from a COO POV because your clinicians need to be trained to use the devices and right now it’s a 5,000 mile trip between a UK hospital & Redmond.

    Software also plays a big part in this and GE Medical spend $ millions in this area. This is important from a COO POV when you appreciate that the firmware on this device can be updated so that clinicians don’t have to buy another device to avail of any new features as/when they become available.

    GE Medical also offers financing and pre-owned refurbished equipment that help to maintain residual values which is important from a COO POV if (like most) you lease such assets.

    GE Medical also have their own servicing department in Hatfield UK and although this isn’t so critical when you’ve got something that can be so easily posted it has several advantages (eg. next day delivery of a replacement) if you had to send your device in for a repair. These are related to COO as downtime of this device could require the bigger more expensive U/S devices to be transported for use by the bedside and this could in turn then affect the productivity in your main department – trust me when you appreciate the operational costs of a whole department the €500 is the least of your worries!

  3. I really hope my explanation here doesn’t come across as though I’m “beating up” on the startup (mobisante). We live in disruptive times and the threat of mHealth is clear to even the medical device giants. There definitely isn’t time for them to rest on their laurels!

    If MobiSante has good IP and gets some traction in the market I can easily see them being an acquisition target of a rival medical device maker.

    …and the way things are going this might just be a Nokia, RIM, Apple, LG or Samsung!

  4. donna

    David–thank you for an exhaustive analysis about the value of service, training, and servicing!

    Loved the ‘Nokia Decade’ too…even though here in the US Nokia has not had the sustained revolutionary force it’s had in the rest of the world. But now we’ve got our knickers in a twist about AT&T/T-Mobile, while the rest of the world yawns.

  5. Glad to be of help.

    Very interesting comment there re nokia & at&t/tmob as it will become very obvious once this deal is done that this is all very closely related…