Helping non-specialists deliver echocardiograms in any setting
At the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, my father was a young high-school-educated Navy Corpsman, part of the first generation of medical assistants to use penicillin regularly to treat infections. Antibiotics first saw mass adoption during the last few years of World War II. From 1942 – 1945, penicillin saved thousands of soldiers’ lives, who otherwise would have died of infection from their wounds. The drug was a breakthrough in human health: it was mass-produced, straightforward to administer, and very effective.
When DCVC first backed Caption Health, we saw a similar opportunity to improve millions of lives through better healthcare — here, by applying Deep Tech to ultrasound, augmenting and amplifying a powerful non-invasive imaging technology. Caption’s mission since its inception required inverting the care model: rather than bring patients to the medical professionals and diagnostic devices; it utilized AI and portable ultrasound to deliver care directly to the patient, in a more mobile, distributed way.
Ultrasound technology is a vital tool for healthcare providers to detect and diagnose circulatory problems and respiratory disease issues. However, to be used effectively, the technology requires trained sonographers or doctors, a bottleneck to successful adoption. (According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States would need to hire 15,000 sonographers at $70,000 a year from 2015 – 2029 to meet the demand for existing technologies). As a result, today, ultrasound’s benefits are limited, reaching only those patients who can travel to clinics and wait for trained professionals.
Caption Health delivered the industry’s first FDA-approved AI imaging and guidance software for cardiac ultrasound. Its software eliminates barriers to care and allows a broad range of individuals (including medical assistants and navy corpsmen) to conduct diagnostic quality cardiac scans. That means that Caption Health has the potential to improve the care of millions of people who otherwise would not have access to this vital service.
This week the company announced two significant milestones:
For Caption, Butterfly and the entire industry, this is an iPhone moment: the most mobile and agile ultrasound device now has expert guidance, allowing a range of tech-enabled service providers to deliver better patient care. This could be a 10-fold or more increase in the use of POCUS. And the NTAP approval means a transparent reimbursement model for the millions of Medicare patients receiving in-patient care.
Both developments could not come at a more critical time. The populations of industrialized nations are aging, and most older people suffer from several chronic diseases. Of the hundreds of millions of people infected with SARS-CoV‑2, an unknown number will wrestle with the lingering after-effects of COVID-19. We must bring care to people who might not otherwise receive it.
Long-COVID requires increased vigilance and regular cardiac and lung diagnostics as we monitor the health implications of the virus for those who contracted the virus. This means we need to bend the curve of costs for traditional care. This work is not new for Caption Health: the company has been working with the US Navy and Marine Corps to study the efficacy of public health measures to control the transmission of COVID-19 (Navy Corpsmen, again, have the opportunity to save people’s lives).
DCVC could not be prouder to partner with Caption Health on its journey to deliver higher quality care to patients across the globe.