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| 1 minute read

How diagnostic imaging will be brought bedside to those around the world

Two-thirds of the world currently has no access to diagnostic imaging technology, that is critical to basic health care. The keynote speaker from this week's annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM21), Jonathan Rothberg, PhD, explained how his mission is to change that. Those attending and presenting at SIIM21 include physicians, scientists, and business entrepreneurs dedicated to the advancement of innovation in medical imaging informatics, bringing together individuals from information science, computer science, and health care. 

In his inspiring keynote, Dr. Rothberg detailed his quest to solve this staggering universal lack of access to imaging technology. Using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductor technology, he developed Butterfly iQ, a handheld ultrasound device. Dr. Rothberg believes this new device can bring medical imaging to remote communities around the world, often for the first time. His keynote described how patients in places like Italy - with Butterfly iQ in their own hands - could, themselves, project images of their COVID-infected lungs to radiologists in a different part of the world, enhancing their health care.

Dr. Rothberg is an American scientist and entrepreneur, best known for his contributions to next-generation DNA sequencing. His vision is to move imaging away from big machines to the delivery of personalized care at the bedside.

His company, Hyperfine, has developed and now delivers portable low-cost MRI devices. An incredible achievement. Amazingly, the equipment is designed to be moved and positioned within even the most crowded health care environments to deliver to the point of care for the scans to the location of the patient, not the other way around.

During the Q&A, the session's moderator, Khan Saddiqui, asked the question increasingly on the minds of those in diagnostic imaging: "Will AI replace radiologists?" His response reflects the core of his mission to meet the unmet health care needs of the world: "AI is a lever arm for the radiologist: It allows you to help 1,000 people at once instead of one at a time."

"[It's not that] Henry Ford saw a horse and carriage and decided that his first project would be a robotic horse," he said. "The real solution was the automobile. [With Butterfly IQ], we put ultrasound on a chip. We took 20 years of micromachine technology and combined it with 40 years of semiconductors ... the integration was the real solution."


health care & life sciences, diagnostic imaging, ultrasound, mri