Expert comments

Comments on this technology were invited from clinical experts working in the field and relevant patient organisations. The comments received are individual opinions and do not represent NICE's view.

All 4 experts were familiar with the technology and 3 had used this technology before.

Level of innovation

All 4 experts said that the Butterfly iQ+ is innovative compared with standard care. This is because it is silicon chip‑based, meaning a single probe can be used for multiple applications. Experts also said that this device can securely store and share images with other clinicians, and that it can be used in primary care. All 4 experts are aware of other portable ultrasound devices. However, these devices use traditional piezoelectric‑based technology, which means they need multiple probes for different modes.

Potential patient impact

Two experts said that the Butterfly iQ+ can improve diagnostic accuracy and support rapid diagnosis. Two experts also said that it can improve patient care because the ultrasound can be used immediately at a patient's bedside.

Experts said that the Butterfly iQ+ would benefit people who are acutely ill. This includes people with acute respiratory difficulties (such as COVID‑19), musculoskeletal conditions, suspected kidney problems, abdominal pain and deep vein thrombosis. One expert noted that this device can also be used for people having procedures that need ultrasound guidance.

Experts estimated that hundreds of thousands of people would be eligible for an intervention with this device (ranging from 200,000 to 1 million).

Potential system impact

Three experts agreed that the Butterfly iQ+ could improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital visits. One expert also said that it can increase accessibility to ultrasounds because of its portability and connectivity. Another expert said that it can lead to system benefits by allowing clinicians to share images. One expert noted that it can improve clinician confidence in their diagnosis.

All experts agreed that this technology could be cost saving compared with current cart‑based and handheld ultrasound devices. One expert said that it costs less because the diagnosis can be supported in selected people using home care models without the need for hospital transfer.

All experts agreed that training is needed to use the technology safely and effectively. None of the experts were aware of any safety issues. However, one expert raised concerns about the image quality and the potential to miss pathology or misinterpret the images.

General comments

Two experts raised concerns about the image quality, stating that it is not yet as good as its competitors. One expert also said that the probe has a large footprint, which is a limitation when using it for cardiac ultrasounds. Experts identified potential barriers to adoption including costs, IT challenges, the organisational structure and image quality. One expert said that it needs to work on different smartphone technologies.

Two experts noted that the Butterfly iQ+ would be in addition to current standard care (cart‑based ultrasounds) because these may be needed for more detailed scanning. All experts agreed that it could replace current standard care in GP surgeries, care home and home settings because ultrasounds are currently not available in these settings.

Two experts said that this device would benefit from further research to help with clinical decision making. One expert said that comparative studies examining clinical outcomes are needed, specifically using radiologists to review the images.