Can innovation play a role in stroke care and diagnosis?

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Dr. Ron Weinberger, CEO of EMVision Medical Devices, explores the role medical technologies and innovation can play in stroke care and diagnosis.

For the past two years, global health systems have been put in the spotlight as the world grapples with the challenges of COVID-19. Meanwhile, rapid technological advancements have played a critical role in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic.

The challenge is that advances in medical technology are often seen as expensive or difficult to implement, so decision makers need to identify which technology will truly benefit operations, health outcomes, and have lasting impact.

One particularly prevalent example is the application of innovation to stroke diagnosis and care. Stroke has long been recognized as one of the world’s biggest killers and is a leading cause of severe long-term disability in the United States, costing billions of dollars a year.

From this perspective, how can innovation play an essential role in meeting this challenge head-on?

Reduction of intervention time

When it comes to stroke, a person loses millions of brain cells every minute after its onset and over time, left untreated, the long-term impact can be devastating. The best results are obtained when a patient is treated within the first hour, or “golden”, after the onset of symptoms. Before a procedure can take place, urgent neuroimaging is needed to distinguish between ischemic (vascular blockage) and hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke – only then can the right clinical decisions be made. and effective treatments applied.

Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are the workhorses of stroke imaging today, used to detect changes in the brain and diagnose a person with stroke and especially, a type of stroke, before treatments can be given. The ability to diagnose quickly and make timely triage and treatment decisions, especially in the “golden hour,” can dramatically improve patient outcomes over the long term.

Medical imaging technology such as EMVision’s portable imaging device is expected to accelerate this process by providing bedside decision support and patient monitoring and, in the future, neuroimaging in ambulances. . Mobile stroke units – highly customized ambulances with imaging equipment and stroke experts – demonstrate the positive benefits of reduced diagnostic and field response time and improvement results for patients.

Investing in new portable imaging technologies, suitable for environments where traditional CT or MRI services are not accessible, convenient or cost prohibitive, is increasingly important to deal with medical emergencies. emergencies like stroke.

Meeting the challenge of distance

Research suggests that nearly a quarter of Americans living in remote areas say access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem, compared to 18% in urban areas and only 9% in suburban areas. These numbers only get worse in low- and middle-income countries and in countries with limited resources, where access to CT or MRI scans may simply not be possible.

Most would agree that medical imaging needs to be more accessible to tackle inequalities in health care. Overcoming these disparities and improving access requires a new, technology-driven approach that makes imaging more affordable, faster, available at the point of care and, ultimately, more accessible.

Looking specifically at stroke intervention, time, and the tyranny of distance to a hospital is certainly a barrier to urgent diagnosis and treatment, and can mean the difference between recovery and permanent disability. To remedy this, a key solution is portable neuroimaging.

Adopting wearable neuroimaging innovations that can be made to the patient will be critical, especially for those who live in rural or remote communities and may experience stroke.

Support radiology specialists

It’s not just about reducing barriers to physical imaging technology, patients also need to access the expertise of radiologists who can read medical imagery and treat patients accordingly.

In the United States, there are over 36,000 radiologists. However, in a country of 43 million people, Kenya has only 200 radiologists. Liberia only has two. With skills shortages plaguing healthcare systems around the world, innovation in portability, AI decision support and telemedicine can play a central role in streamlining the sharing of vital information, the support for teams and improvement of staff well-being.

Wearable imaging technology can be adopted at the bedside, in space-constrained environments such as intensive care units, to unlock efficiencies in triage settings and help radiologists and technicians in making decision. Transporting patients can be resource intensive, put patients at risk, and affect the time needed for a critical clinical decision, but the introduction of such technology eliminates these challenges and makes imaging accessible beyond hospital settings. Increasingly, the tools supported by AI, while requiring additional clinical validation for many applications, are showing great promise in further helping to fill gaps in healthcare.

It is evident that innovation in medical imaging is accelerating at a rapid rate. Ultimately, innovative portable and miniaturized imaging tools can play a vital role in improving stroke care and diagnosis, and the adoption of these technologies will play an important role in reducing inequalities in our society. global health system.


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