Once you have saved your images to the USB drive, you don’t really want to leave them on there. The images are simply too valuable to leave entrusted to a $25 flash drive. Instead, you are going to want to transfer the images to your computer (possibly put them all into a folder named "Ultrasound Images") and eventually, if you have an EMR system, attach each to the patient records.

I recommend delegating this task to one of your assistants or nurses. At the end of every day someone should unplug the USB drive from the back of the ultrasound, transfer the images to a computer in your office, confirm that they’ve transferred over, delete them from the USB drive, and then replace the drive in the back of the ultrasound. If you have simplified your file-naming (giving your images simply a number for a name or only typing in the patient’s name) your assistant or nurse will now rename the images on the computer (for more info on how to best name your images, click here) and possibly attach them to the patient’s records if you want them in your EMR system.

There are far too many variables among different EMR systems for me to cover how to attach records there, but we will cover moving the images onto your computer initially, and attaching them to the patient records in your EMR should be fairly straightforward. The ultrasound images are simply .jpg image files, so you should be able to attach them to a patient’s record the same way you would a digital photo or scan of an X-ray, or any other kind of document.

Even if you aren’t using EMR in your practice, it’s perfectly fine keeping your ultrasound images saved in an archive folder where you can access them as needed. For this purpose, and for moving the images over from the USB drive to begin with, I recommend you pick one computer in your office to use and create a folder on the desktop named "Ultrasound Images." (On a Windows PC, you create a new folder by righ-clicking on your desktop, selecting "New" from the drop-down menu, and then "Folder." A folder will pop up on your desktop and you can type a name for it. If you make a mistake in name it, right-click the folder and select "Rename" from the little menu.)

Once you have a folder to move them to, and the USB drive from the ultrasound plugged into your computer, you are ready to move the images off of the one and over to the other.

 

ON A WINDOWS PC

  1. With the USB drive plugged into your computer, go to the bottom left corner of your screen and select "Start."
  2. From the menu that comes up you will want to choose "My Computer" from the right column.
  3. A window will come up, showing you your hard drives, your disk drives, and any extra drives hooked up to your computer. You want to look for the USB drive you have plugged in. It might say "Kingston," for example. When you think you have found it, double-click it to open it up. You should see any ultrasound image files you’ve saved on the USB drive listed.
  4. Position the window you are looking at in such a way that you can see all of those files while also being able to see the "Ultrasound Images" folder you created on your desktop.
  5. Highlight all of the images on the USB drive by clicking and dragging over them (you can also hold down Ctrl while clicking each of them to select them individually) and then, with them highlighted, click and drag them over to the "Ultrasound Images" folder. You should see that folder become highlighted when you are over top of it, and by letting go of the mouse button you will "drop" the images into that folder.
  6. After it finishes copying the images over into that folder, I suggest double-clicking it and checking to make sure the images were sucessfully copied over. Assuming they were, if you need to rename them here is where you would do that, by right-clicking each one and giving it the correct full file name. And at this point you may attach each to the patient’s record in your EMR system.
  7. If you know the images have definitely copied over to the computer, you can now go back into the USB drive in My Computer and highlight the images and press "Delete" to delete them all from the USB drive.
  8. Finally, safely eject the USB drive from your computer and go plug it back into the back of the ultrasound (usually into the top USB slot) so that it is ready to save images to the next day.

It looks like a lot of steps, but really three of the steps only require scrolling down a little and pressing "Enter," and two steps don’t even require any scrolling — just the "Enter." So it goes by pretty quickly, and after you have done a few, you should be able to zip through the saving process in a few seconds. And if it still feels as if it takes too long, you can likely train your assisting nurse to handle these steps for you while talk with the patient and wrap things up.

 

ON AN APPLE MAC

On an Apple computer it’s much the same as above, except that you will open your Finder (press Command-N or select the Finder from your dock) and you should see the USB drive among your available drives at the top left, listed below your hard drive. Clicking on this will display all of the images on the flash drive — which you can then select and drag into a folder on your desktop (or wherever you have placed your "Ultrasound Images" folder). Confirm that the files have been copied then delete them from the USB drive, eject the drive, and plug it back into the ultrasound for the next day.