Tucson-based startup develops ultrasound system for mobile devices
Diagnostic ultrasound, also known as sonography, is an important method of medical imaging.
Ultrasound is most commonly used to monitor a pregnant woman and her developing baby, but it can also be used to evaluate blood flow, diagnose diseases and monitor tumors and inflammation.
Now, a Tucson startup is taking ultrasound on the road with its unique mobile ultrasound platform, which can work from an ordinary smartphone using a simple peripheral device.
“I think that cell phones — and mobile devices in general — are the real equalizer of our time,” said Courtney Williams, co-founder and CEO of Emagine Solutions Technology, the company behind the VistaScan mobile ultrasound.
“Research shows that there are more cell phones than toilets in the world and that mobile devices are multiplying faster than people,” Williams said. “It’s my belief that we can really leverage this technology that everybody has in their hand in order to improve health outcomes for people and patients everywhere.”
The technology is simple, she said. A clinician can download the VistaScan app, plug in a compatible ultrasound probe (there are three currently) and start scanning immediately.
“This is basically a doctor’s first line of defense before having to go to one of the larger machines for further analysis,” Williams said. “VistaScan is the ideal quick-look tool… whether it’s at the bedside, in the clinic or in transit, or anywhere in between. If a patient’s condition needs to be assessed, this can do the job as the initial quick look.”
VistaScan is especially useful for finding quick answers about the health of a mother and fetus during pregnancy, Williams said.
“For example, quickly assessing the fetal position, checking fetal heart rate, things like that,” she said. “It’s also great in an emergency trauma situation, where you need to determine whether there’s fluid in the body, such as between the kidney and the liver, in an area called Morison’s pouch.”
At Emagine Solutions Technology — a certified Women’s Business Enterprise — Williams said she is on the business side, while her co-founder, Jose Juarez, is the technical expert.
Juarez formerly worked as a software engineer at companies like Roche and Philips, and his contacts at those places proved essential in the company’s early days of development.