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If you could make smartphones a force for good, what real world problems would you try tackling first? One man set out to reimagine how healthcare could be transformed by the power of a smartphone’s mobility. Sailesh Chutani, co-founder and CEO of mobile healthcare company, Mobisante, worked alongside fellow co-founder and CTO David Zar to create the MobiUS SP1, the world’s first smartphone-based ultrasound imaging system. The size and simplicity of the device allows it to fit in a pocket and be taken to anywhere a patient is—making the technology ideal for use in rural areas and developing nations.
Helping medical practitioners diagnose patients from a handheld smartphone might seem revolutionary but for the past eight years, Chutani has championed cell phone technologies in healthcare. “I started to observe the impact that mobile technologies were beginning to have as early as 2005, in improving access to healthcare, finance, and education, especially in the emerging markets that had skipped the PC revolution,” he says. They found whenever they demonstrated their ultrasound prototype for medical professionals, they would receive requests for orders, so Chutani and Zar decided to invest and create the technology themselves.
“[With mobile ultrasound] many sophisticated diagnostics and guided procedures can now be performed in clinics by mid-level professionals under guidance, rather than requiring patients to go to hospitals,” he says. This means routine tests such as pregnancy confirmation can be done at a local clinic. For rural areas this means a nurse could perform the exams and send the images to a remote expert for diagnosis. Chutani believes that by moving more care out of expensive settings like hospitals to less expensive settings like clinics and eventually patient’s homes, he’ll be “empowering mid-level professionals to be able to do more on their own, [which] is one of the best ways to increase access while reducing costs.”
Chutani believes the MobiUS SP1 and other mobile healthcare technologies will change service quality for patients, and he is actively pursuing partnerships to allow for widespread accessibility. Mobisante’s initial funding came from two community clinics in Washington that serve primarily rural and immigrant communities. “We hope to bring ultrasound-based visualization within reach of everyone in the world, no matter where they live and what their economic status,” he says. So whether it’s a pregnant woman in a remote area needing reassurance on the health of her baby, or a medic requiring the ability to detect internal bleeding on an accident victim, the MobiUS SP1 can be there to provide life-saving diagnostics.
Chutani notes, “The implications to improving lives are tremendous and ultimately that is what keeps us motivated and driven, despite the enormous hurdles that we encounter on a daily basis.”
Read more from leaders like Chutani at Figures of Progress, including interviews with Matthew Stinchcomb, VP at Etsy, Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America; Adam Brotman, chief digital officer of Starbucks; Rachel Sterne, CIO of the city of New York; and Oliver Hurst-Hiller, CTO of Donorschoose.org.