According to Radiology Aid International, 50% of the world does not have access to ultrasound. What does that look like? Those are families who are not able to get prenatal checks before a baby is born. These are patients who don’t know whether terrible belly pain is caused by something the patient ate or life-threatening gall stones. And this isn’t just a problem for the developing world. It also affects rural communities across Arizona, where hospital closures leave entire communities without sufficient access to medical imaging.

Ultrasound is a life-saving diagnostic tool that most of us don’t think about in our day-to-day lives. But a high-risk pregnancy left my sister bedridden for months and there’s now a high-stage Arizona startup addressing this issue. Their experience left them wondering what would have happened to my sister had ultrasound not been available?

This group of entrepreneurs put together a team of professionals in the medical imaging and founded Emagine Solutions Technology. Their mission is to make medical imaging more accessible by leveraging smartphones to create affordable mobile ultrasound machines. Why mobile phones? There are more cell phones than toilets in our world today, and mobile devices are multiplying faster than people. They believe that the way for our society to equalize health outcomes is to leverage this amazing tool that doctors already have in their pockets.

How does it work? All doctors have to do is download their VistaScan software application on their phones or tablets, plug in a third party ultrasound probe, and they can start scanning patients. While other portable ultrasound machines are on the market, including some handheld models, the advantage of VistaScan saves doctors time. In health care, saving time means saving lives. VistaScan is designed to be easy for clinicians of all skill levels to use – it takes just minutes to become proficient on the platform. Clinicians can save images where they want with one click they aren’t required to use a particular cloud storage system. Plus, the unique measurement tool is the most innovative and precise in the industry. Having precise measurements on a touch screen helps doctors arrive at a diagnosis and plan of action for a patient faster.

This Arizona startup may be small now, but it is moving forward quickly, in part due to the growing Arizona biotechnology community. It was awarded the 2019 Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneurship Award, Arizona’s most prestigious award for emerging biotech companies. The Flinn Foundation is the sponsor of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, our state’s strategic plan to advance the bioscience industry. It also won aNational Science Foundation Grant, Rodenberry Foundation Catalyst Grant and the Cox Business Get Started award. Due to these advances, Pipeline Angels in the Bay Area has invested in their startup.

Emagine Solutions Technology is working to advance health care around the world and it has originated and incubated by so many groups here in Arizona. Companies like this will truly change the face of health care everywhere.

We believe there is a way to bridge these gaps. Imagine if your doctor had a tool in his or her coat pocket that enabled them to quickly tell you during a routine office visit whether that bump on your neck was inflammation or cancer.

What keeps us up at night is that 300,000 women still die every year from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. My sister could have been one of those women. And any of our daughters, sisters, friends, partners could be as well.

If you think the problem of maternal mortality is a problem for the developing world, think again. According to the United Nations, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and the rate is rising. This problem is particularly prevalent with African American mothers who are three to four times more likely than their white counterparts to perish from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

By Russ Yelton – Contributing Writer