I am happy to announce that we have invested in ThinkSono, an ultrasound AI company.
There are in fact very few ultrasound AI companies in the world, even though ultrasound is one of the most important imaging modalities currently used in medicine. It is already vital in the developed world, and is increasingly important in the developing world, especially considering that 4.7 billion people worldwide do not have access to any medical imaging.
One of the main barriers for access to ultrasound technology in the world is (a) due to the cost of the hardware and (b) the low number of specialists that are required to use the technology. However, recent progress in ultrasound development means that the cost of the hardware is decreasing rapidly. The most famous example of this is Butterfly iQ, a handheld ultrasound device that connects to the iPhone, which costs less than $2000. Other players in this field are Philips Lumify, GE Vscan and Clarius.Butterfly iQ
Due to the low cost and increased need of ultrasound machines, the app-based handheld ultrasound market is the fastest growing ultrasound segment, with 40% growth from 2016-2017 compared to 3-5% growth in the rest of the market.
For us, it is clear that the ultrasound market is changing and is spreading around the world. However, the fundamental problem yet to be solved is the need for specialists to use it. This is where ThinkSono is paving the way.
ThinkSono’s aim is to allow any healthcare professional to use ultrasound to assess and diagnose a multitude of different problems. This removes the barrier for ultrasound use worldwide, while fundamentally creating a whole new market by allowing software to unlock the true potential of ultrasound and building new business models and revenue streams for hospitals, doctors and hardware providers. All this while improving patient outcomes and access to medical imaging.
Thankfully we are not the only ones believing in ThinkSono. Together with Entrepreneur First our preseed team invested alongside AI Seed, WestTech Ventures and Dubai Angels Investors and HPI Seed Fund (as well as other well-known angels).
The world’s first software to detect DVT
The first product that ThinkSono is working on is AutoDVT.
A normal ultrasound image Utrasound image with AutoDVT
AutoDVT allows any healthcare professional to detect ‘deep vein thrombosis’ (DVT) in under 10 minutes. Those of you who come from a medical background will immediately know that the potential of this technology is immense.
For non-medical readers, some context is required:
DVT is a condition where a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg. When part of the clot breaks loose, it can go into the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT/PE is considered the leading cause of preventable hospital death.
It is estimated that the annual cost of DVT/PE diagnosis and treatment in the UK is £640 million, in Australia $1.7 billion, and in the USA $15.5 billion.
AutoDVT aims to make today's time and cost-intensive diagnostic process more efficient and effective. It can also provide access to DVT screening in rural areas and developing countries, where access to specialist healthcare staff is difficult.
The current diagnostic approach requires a patient to go through a long and expensive process that involves several appointments with different health professionals, including a visit to a radiologist, often a significant distance from their home. This clinical pathway is very inefficient and cumbersome.
Furthermore, up to 88% of ultrasound scans show no DVT, hence many tens of thousands of patients are therefore investigated in an unnecessarily lengthy diagnostic pathway before it is confirmed they are not affected.
The benefits of AutoDVT
The AutoDVT software allows any healthcare professional (e.g. nurse) to diagnose DVT in 10 minutes at the point of care.
AutoDVT aims to disrupt the currently inefficient and ineffective clinical DVT diagnostic path by providing an accurate, cheap and fast evaluation of patients suffering from life-threatening DVT.
Since AutoDVT can be used by non-specialist staff, it can:
1. Reduce the 88% negative rate in radiology departments by allowing early screening by nurses.
2. Reduce the need for anticoagulant prophylaxis. Anticoagulation confers a bleeding risk.
3. Reduce pressure on emergency room waiting times by facilitating DVT diagnosis in alternative venues such as GP practices or minor injuries units.
4. Reduce DVT diagnosis costs by a factor of 10.
5. Improve patient outcomes by facilitating rapid diagnosis in rural areas where there is reduced access to specialist staff.
The best team to solve this problem
Fouad Al Noor (CEO) Sven Mischkewitz (CTO)
The team behind ThinkSono is also extremely impressive. Fouad Al Noor and Sven Mischkewitz met during Entrepreneur First, and gathered a truly world-class team including radiologists, hematologists, emergency doctors and machine learning engineers. They were part of Bayer's G4A accelerator (selected top 4 among 450 companies from 61 countries), participated at the Vienna Health Hub and won the 2018 Health.Pioneers. In Addition the ThinkSono team cooperates with hospitals from the UK, Germany and the USA and is receiving support and advice regarding clinical trials and pilots.
The Future of Ultrasound
There are many conditions that ultrasound can be used to diagnose, and AutoDVT forms a great starting point to completely transform the way we use the technology. The future looks bright for ultrasound technology and ThinkSono is helping shaping it.
All of us at Speedinvest are excited to be investing in ThinkSono. We look forward to supporting the team in redefining the future of ultrasound!