My experience in nursing school has given me valuable insights into Alberta’s healthcare system and the role of nurses have in alleviating health inequities. As I reflect on my journey towards becoming a nurse, I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive about entering the field (as I discussed in my previous piece). But every now and then, I’m gifted with glimmers of hope – particularly when I learn about exciting new technology aimed at improving health care.  

The Impact of Portable Diagnostic Imaging Software 

One such technology is portable diagnostic imaging software. Its potential to save Albertans time, money, and energy on their healthcare is remarkable, and I recently witnessed its impact firsthand during my internship with Health Cities. 

Health Cities collaborated on the Remote Diagnostic Imaging project with WestView Primary Care Network, Alberta Innovates, and Edmonton-Based  

Catching Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) Early  

I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Cassandra Gallant, a research assistant involved with the project, use the tool to scan a one-month-old infant at a clinic in Spruce Grove for hip dysplasia. According to Alberta Innovates, approximately 4 infants are born daily with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Unfortunately, many infants in rural areas miss out on the opportunity to get scanned for DDH because the only places to get a confirmed diagnosis for DDH in Alberta are Edmonton and Calgary. Without a proper diagnosis, and if left untreated, this condition can lead to premature arthritis and even hip replacements. 

 Benefits of Portable Diagnostic Imaging Software 

This is where portable diagnostic imaging software comes into play. It’s compact, easy to transport, and requires nothing more than a hand-held scanner, a tablet, secure software, and a stable internet connection. With this tool, physicians and nurses can scan an infant’s hips and get immediate results – Dr. Gallant effortlessly scanned the infant in less than 20 seconds. Using AI-generated software, the technology is user-friendly and delivers consistent results. A green checkmark informs the team that the hip is healthy and does not require follow-up. If the infant does need a follow-up, they will have an additional assessment in Edmonton where a treatment plan can be implemented. Even if an additional assessment is required, a remote screening tool is essential for catching DDH diagnoses and starting early prevention.

I was not only impressed by the efficient nature of the entire process, but also by how effortless it was for the infant and their family. The infant babbled happily and cooperated well, while the mother was enthusiastic to have the scanner provide a reassuring negative result. It’s essential for any healthcare innovation to prioritize the patient experience, and this technology, along with the careful and purposeful hands that wield the hardware, does exactly that. As a nurse heading into a rural practicum, the use of this technology provides me with a sense of optimism toward care delivery. This is an efficient tool that not only makes providers jobs easier but also gives patients empowerment and ownership over their health care. 

The Future of Portable Diagnostic Imaging Software in Healthcare 

The benefits of this technology are evident. It saves time, is easy to use, delivers consistent results, and is widely accepted by both patients and healthcare providers. However, not everyone is using it, and Dr. Gallant hopes to change that.  

“Our goal is to make sure that every infant is scanned for hip dysplasia, regardless of where they are,” says Dr. Gallant. “It’s quick and any health professional can be trained to use it. We hope to partner with many more communities in the near future.”  

As I reflect on my time with Health Cities, my perspective on nursing and health care has shifted in a more positive direction. The incredible work that Health Cities is up to is helping make space for innovative processes and technologies in our health care system. This provides a hopeful lens for the field of nursing and makes me look forward to the exciting changes coming our way to help alleviate health inequities and bring more inclusive care to our communities. As an intern, I had the opportunity to participate in many exciting conversations surrounding innovation in health and made countless connections in this unique ecosystem. Thank you, Health Cities, for the unforgettable experience!  

Author: Becca Moug

Becca is in her 2nd and final year of the After Degree Nursing program at the University of Alberta and is beyond excited for the opportunity to work with Health Cities as part of a leadership course. She is passionate about the promotion of health equity, identifying and tackling socioeconomic barriers in nursing care, and serving underprivileged groups. Her focus as a future nurse and leader is to empower individuals to view health care through an intersectional lens, and to advocate for their health and wellness