Ultrasound is a key tool for diagnosing potentially life-threatening problems, and the newest company to join Fogarty Innovation, UltraSight, facilitates point-of-care ultrasound in the cardiac imaging space.
UltraSight is part of Fogarty Innovation’s Company Accelerator Program (CAP), an intensive six-month mentoring program designed to help startups more clearly focus on their opportunity and identify and overcome barriers to success.
Providing accessible ultrasound anywhere, anytime
The company, originally known as OnSight Medical, recently raised a $13 million Series B round, which will be used to advance U.S.-based clinical programs for its point-of-care ultrasound software that facilitates use for clinicians who aren’t trained in sonography. It offers real-time, on-screen guidance and quality assessment using artificial intelligence that simplifies and ultrasound cardiac scanning and drives standardization.
“Our technology allows any medical professional to become an expert in conducting cardiac scans, which is important because today sonographers are often hard to find outside of major hospitals or in rural settings,” says UltraSight’s CEO Davidi Vortman. He adds that the current trend of “unbundling,” which allows the ultrasound probe to connect and run on commercial tablets and smart phones, also provides opportunities for AI software.
UltraSight’s technology introduction is perfectly timed to coincide with the proliferation of cost-effective handheld ultrasound devices. However, despite the devices’ availability, it can take up to two years to master the skill of cardiac echography and daily practice to maintain proficiency. UltraSight bridges the gap with AI software that reduces the training to one day. The intuitive technology guides the user through probe orientation in space and alerts when a diagnostic quality image has been achieved; then it captures the image and saves it to be uploaded to a remote expert who can interpret it.
“We are building on the current trend toward bringing medicine and imaging closer to the patient in settings even outside of the hospital. And it dovetails well with the increased need for cardiac imaging brought about by an aging population, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and the move from the hospital to the home or smaller clinical settings,” says Davidi. “We are able to provide better care through faster, more accurate clinical decisions since we can assist clinicians in assessing the cardiac situation in new care settings as there no longer is an operator dependency.”
A convergence of factors paves the way
The company started in 2018 through the vision of Achi Ludomirsky, MD, a co-founder and chief medical officer. A pediatric cardiologist at NYU Langone Hospital, he was alarmed by seeing athletes with cardiomyopathy dying on the field. Because of his expertise in heart imaging, he wondered if the issue could be alleviated by a nurse or other provider doing a quick cardiac scan onsite.
As Dr. Ludomirsky pursued this idea, he and his colleagues discovered the trend toward new cost-effective devices that could connect to a tablet or a smartphone to serve patients in the community. Yet that didn’t solve the challenge of delivering the technical ultrasound skills they would need to capture appropriate images, which was the impetus for UltraSight. Since then, they have assembled an experienced board and management team, with industry leaders who have deep expertise in cardiology, AI and technology.
Expanding the universe for their technology
Bringing the software to market is just one of the many projects UltraSight has been pursuing. In additional recent news, the company was selected to participate in the upcoming “Rakia” Israeli space mission, the first to send civilians to the international space station, with an expected 2022 launch date.
The Israeli Aerospace Medicine Institute (IAMI), the Israel Space Agency and the Ramon Foundation will oversee a study on how outer space travel impacts the cardiovascular system. “Our goal in the upcoming space study is to prove that with UltraSight’s real-time guidance, any astronaut can acquire quality cardiac images, simply and independently of ground mission control or trained medical professionals. Our novel technology carries the potential of increasing patient access to cardiac imaging and better care,” said Davidi in the official announcement.
The team had responded to a request for proposals after realizing the need to monitor cardiac health in microgravity, given the numerous structural changes that occur, and the fact that space travel is evolving to become a commercial pursuit. “We knew that our technology allows anyone to perform echocardiography anywhere, so it seemed like a proactive idea to send our software and a device to space to show how an astronaut can do it,” said Xen Mendelsohn Aderka, UltraSight’s vice president of marketing.
Joining Fogarty Innovation
In addition, UltraSight was the recent winner of the prestigious TCT Connect 2020 Shark Tank Innovation competition, where they were awarded a $200,000 prize. Typically won by interventional cardiology companies, they were the first diagnostic company to be honored. The panel recognized their software was a real game changer in allowing cardiologists to treat patients remotely for the first time.
One of those impressed judges turned out to be Andrew Cleeland, Fogarty Innovation CEO, who recognized the potential and welcomed them to Fogarty to help them advance the technology to eventually bring it to market. “We’re very proud to be working with Fogarty Innovation,” said Davidi. “We know the network and their connections will continue to be helpful as we progress.”
“Fogarty understands our vision and will be advantageous in helping us navigate and shorten the commercialization process—to help us move quicker so we can help patients with this life-saving technology that much faster,” said Xen.