Harry's guest this week is Joe DeVivo, the new CEO of Butterfly Network. The company's goal is to make it radically easier for doctors or medical technicians to perform an ultrasound exam on any part of the body, and radically cheaper for a patient to get one. The companyt makes an FDA-cleared, handheld ultrasound scanner called the Butterfly iQ. The first big thing that’s different about the iQ is that it uses silicon-based microelectromechanical sensors, instead of a traditional piezoelectric crystal element, to generate and receive the ultrasound waves. That means the device is fully digital, rather than analog. The second big thing that’s different is that the iQ transmits the ultrasound data to a standard iPhone or iPad instead of a big, expensive ultrasound cart. The doctor or technician can see the live ultrasound image right on a handheld device, and use the image to aim the sensor correctly to get the best possible picture to make a diagnosis. All of that is bringing down the cost of equipping a clinic with ultrasound technology dramatically, and over time it should also bring down the cost of administering an ultrasound exam. It also opens up the possibility of adding AI assistance to the software, so that doctors or technicians can get usable images with less training. The net result is that Butterfly is making it economically feasible to use ultrasound for diagnostic imaging in a lot more places, including clinics in developing countries where ultrasound was out of reach before due to the high cost of the technology and a shortage of trained ultrasonographers.
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