At the Web 2.0 Summit General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt gave the first public viewing of GE’s new pocket-size Vscan “ultra-smart ultrasound.”
About the size of a smart phone, theVscan houses powerful ultrasound technology that can potentially redefine the way doctors examine patients. By giving doctors a view into the body from the palm of a hand, GE says Vscan could one day become “as indispensable as the traditional physician’s stethoscope in patient exams.”
The company’s website says GE’s drive is to miniaturize technologies in order to make them more mobile, and GE has committed to developing 100 new innovations as part of its new $6 billion “healthymagination“ committment to developing 100 new medical innovations.
It certainly feels like we are entering a serious renaissance in the portability of medical instrumentation. In just the past year, I’ve met with numerous companies whose sole purpose is to use technology to do in the field what once could only be done in the laboratory. From infectious-disease detection to blood-flow monitoring, the cost-reduced portability of such devices could not come at a better time as our debate continues to rage around how to get our arms around skyrocketing medical expenses.
Today, the diagnosis of bacterial infections requires growing cultures in a laboratory over a period of days. But new sensors based on various nanomaterials that are being developed for ultrasensitive, rapid DNA detection. Instruments based on the new technology would take from 15 minutes to two hours for a diagnosis.
Benjamin Miller, professor of dermatology and biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has patented a sensor that is based on a hairpin-shaped strand of DNA, and is complementary to the genetic sequence being targeted. The DNA unfolds when it captures the target gene sequence, causing an attached fluorescent molecule to glow with an indication of “positive” results.
New York based Lighthouse Biosciences is commercializing disposable cartridges to be used with the nanosensor technology.
Medical device “Plug-and-Play” interoperability is a crucial issue today with the eventual goal being an integrated clinical environment, in which all devices are interconnected, in plug-and-play fashion, for better management. Most medical devices used in hospitals don’t “talk” to each other in event the simpest of ways that our PCs “talk” to our printers!
Peter Szolovits, a professor of computer science at MIT who studies medical data integration says “where you have a bunch of data simultaneously, you can do a better job of trying to understand what’s going on with the patient.”
The issue is important enough for Mass General Hospital in Boston to have established the MD PnP program dedicated to “leading the adoption of open standards and technology to interconnect medical devices for improving patient safetyand healthcare efficiency.”
MD PnP is part of the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) and now the group has proposed a new set of standards for an”Integrated Clinical Environment.” Julian Goldman, director of MD PnP, calls the standards “a comprehensive [design] platform… that allows the global community to innovate and build cool things on top of it that improve patient safety.”