Remote real-time supervision via tele-ultrasound in focused cardiac ultrasound: A single-blinded cluster randomized controlled trial

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2019 Mar;63(3):403-409. doi: 10.1111/aas.13276. Epub 2018 Oct 17.


Background: Supervision via tele-ultrasound presents a remedy for lacking on-site supervision in focused cardiac ultrasound, but knowledge of its impact is largely absent. We aimed to investigate tele-supervised physicians' cine-loop quality compared to that of non-supervised physicians and compared to that of experts.

Methods: We conducted a single-blinded cluster randomized controlled trial in an emergency department in western Denmark. Physicians with basic ultrasound competence scanned admitted patients twice. The first scan was non-supervised, and the second was non-supervised (control) or tele-supervised (intervention). Finally, experts in focused cardiac ultrasound scanned the same patient. Two blinded observers graded cine-loops recorded from all scans on a 1-5 scale. The outcome was the mean summarized scan gradings compared with a linear mixed-effects model.

Results: In each group, 10 physicians scanned 44 patients. From the mean summarized gradings, on a scale from 4 to 20, the second non-supervised scan grading was 10.9 (95% CI 10.2-11.7), whereas the tele-supervised grading was 12.6 (95% CI: 11.8-13.3). From the first to the second scan, tele-supervised physicians moved 9% (1.09; 95% CI: 1.00-1.19; P = 0.041) closer to the experts' quality than the non-supervised physicians.

Conclusion: Tele-supervised physicians performed scans of better quality than non-supervised physicians. The present study supports the use of tele-supervision for physicians with basic focused ultrasound competence in a setting where on-site supervision is unavailable.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Computer Systems
  • Denmark
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Physicians
  • Remote Consultation
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Young Adult