This article by Ambra Health CEO, Morris Panner, was originally published in Forbes on May 1, 2020.
It was in December 2019 that the world first started hearing whispers of the novel coronavirus, but it hasn’t taken long for it to become a global pandemic. However, we are fortunate to live in a time when information travels fast too, and that has enabled the scientific community to band together to share resources and foster innovation.
This kind of collaboration is driving some truly innovative efforts in health care. During this time, I’m reminded that rapid diagnosis or diagnosis at the point of care is vital to our health care system, as I’ve learned firsthand leading a company that supports medical professionals with cloud-based health care technology.
These are some of the developments that I’m paying special attention to due to the current climate when it comes to medical technologies.
New AI-based Medical Technologies To Watch
• Smart image-reading system: CT scans are key in helping to diagnose certain ailments and illnesses. Sometimes, whether due to a lack of radiologists or simply from being in a rural location with limited resources, there may not be enough radiologists to review all the scans. Ping An Smart Healthcare’s AI-powered image-reading system, which was just launched in late February, could be a lifesaver for many medical institutions. With this system, an image review that normally takes a radiologist 15 minutes to perform is instead completed in just 15 seconds (and with an above 90% accuracy rate).
• Disinfection robots: Technology can also play an important role in minimizing the reach of germs and disease. The Shanghai-based company TMiRob has already deployed 30 disinfection robots in hospitals based in Wuhan, China. The 5G-powered mobile robot “sprays hydrogen peroxide from its ‘head’ while utilizing ultraviolet lamps on its ‘belly’ to provide multiple methods of disinfection.”
• AI software in CT scans: Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital is currently testing AI software to detect visual signs of pneumonia associated with the novel coronavirus on CT scans of patient lungs. Although the AI tool wasn’t originally designed for the novel coronavirus, soon after the outbreak the Beijing-based startup that developed it fine-tuned their algorithms to look for images that radiologists call grand glass opacity to signal more specifically for pneumonia.
• New technology analyzes saliva samples: While scans provide helpful information for diagnosing certain ailments, confirmation that a patient has a disease comes from a test of bodily fluids. Unfortunately, getting results from these tests can sometimes be time-consuming, especially in a crisis. But a new technology, developed by Dr. Amos Danielli of the engineering department at Bar-Ilan University, which uses optics and magnetic particles, can test samples in just about 15 minutes, which at the point of care can be an important time-saver.
Why It’s Necessary To Stay Innovative In Times of Crisis (And How To Do It)
AI, which is already supporting multiple aspects of health care and driving the latest technology trends, is unlocking new innovations that members of the tech and medical industry are using in this time of crisis. In times like these, it’s vital that medical tech companies stay innovative. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention,” so it is often when there is the most urgent need that some of the greatest advancements are born.
Create an innovative culture.
In order to meet challenges in extraordinary times, a business should be prepared in normal ones. Identifying existing problems and needs should be an ongoing exercise, and all members of your team should be encouraged to propose and entertain solutions that are outside the box. An innovative business culture is one where investments are made in the latest technologies and where creativity is nurtured. It should also be a place where even the ideas that don’t initially make the cut are archived for future consideration when new demands arise.
A business that values innovation will be poised to step up and deliver when the community is in dire straits. Don’t wait to be asked to make a difference — take the lead. Get all of your best minds and hands on deck to examine the problem from all angles, brainstorm solutions and start developing and testing those potential solutions. If you haven’t already adopted virtual technologies like videoconferencing and team chat channels, now is the time to employ them, as they will better facilitate collaboration among your teams.
Develop and nurture partnerships.
Even if, for example, you have an existing diagnostic technology that you are able to successfully adapt to meet the requirements of an emergency situation, the next challenge would be to scale up. A smart tech business should always take care to maintain its contacts and relationships with vendors, producers and partner companies whose services may be needed quickly in a time of crisis. Reach out to them as early as possible to let them know what you are working on and how they might possibly be involved.
Announce your progress publicly along the way as you innovate, and forge new connections with potential collaborators in both the private and public sectors.
An Opportunity For Growth
A crisis is, by nature, unexpected, so it’s hard to know what will be asked of you. One thing that is for certain is that such opportunities should never go to waste, as they provide a chance to demonstrate your ability to offer helpful or even lifesaving capabilities when they are needed most. If your business is there for people at a critical time, many will remember that long into the future. You could indeed emerge from the crisis with a business that is bigger, stronger and more trusted than ever.