In support of GE’s healthymagination vision, the company is currently developing a low-cost transducer for portable ultrasound systems capable of maintaining high quality images. The intended use for these machines is beyond hospitals and for under deserved communities worldwide.
GE has been awarded a two-year, $1.2 million project by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), thereby strengthening the company’s commitment to drive new technologies and products that are cost efficient, quality efficient and increase access to healthcare.
Figures from the World Health Organisation state that about 1400 women die each day due to maternal complications. Furthermore, for every dying woman, 20 more suffer injuries, infection, and disability in pregnancy and childbirth. For decades now, ultrasounds have shown promising results in diagnosing various life threatening maternal health conditions such as ectopic pregnancy, placental previa, foetal malposition and pre-eclampsia. Therefore, reducing the cost of running these machines and sharing the benefits of an ultrasound with under deserved communities would greatly reduce the number of maternal deaths in these parts.
With the advancement in research, the size of imaging unit has reduced in size in the last few years. However, weight and cost of transducers has remained unchanged, making it the most costly component of ultrasound systems. Being a leader in electronics miniaturization revolution, GE is now innovating a new manufacturing process that can reduce the cost of building and running a transducer.
In addition to working on cost efficiency, GE researchers are working on building new intelligence into these systems to enable them to spot possible issues. The aim of these machines is to enable healthcare providers to use these beyond the realm of hospitals, like in smaller clinics, thereby deliver better quality healthcare. In under deserved communities, GE seeks to improve training of healthcare practitioners to efficiently operate these automated ultrasound systems.
Apart from working on technological advancements, GE in collaboration with Maternal and Foetal Medicine physicians at Utah Valley Regional Medical Centre, will evaluate equipment and education of young doctors in rural clinics and hospitals, in an effort to bring diagnostic imaging to rural communities around the world and save lives.
Article by Snigdha Taduri for Biomed Middle East