On September 28th, the US handheld ultrasound equipment manufacturer Butterfly Network announced the completion of the $250 million D round of financing, with a post-mortem valuation of $1.25 billion, becoming the new unicorn in the digital health care field.
Who is Butterfly? Why are investors so optimistic? What is the current status of the entire handheld ultrasound market? Is there a company in China that is comparable to Butterfly? The arterial network tries to solve these questions one by one through the in-depth analysis of the industry...
Butterfly iQ relies on an ultrasound transducer system integrated on a single chip, which can be directly connected to a smart phone, and combined with cloud technology, artificial intelligence, deep learning, etc., to achieve a single handheld ultrasound probe through a variety of inspection modes, respectively Complete the operation of multiple parts of the body, a variety of clinical applications. It is reported that Butterfly iQ has covered 13 indications including abdominal, cardiovascular, fetal, gynecological, urinary, musculoskeletal and so on.
At the same time, with the help of smart phone application and Internet technology, Butterfly iQ has the functions of remote mutual assistance, which enables seamless real-time cooperation and communication between ordinary users and industry experts, primary medical institutions and large hospitals.
Pocket ultrasound is a challenge for traditional ultrasound?
This new industry is the subdivision of "Palm Ultrasound + AI".
Traditional large-scale ultrasonic instruments have the disadvantages of being bulky, cumbersome, incapable of moving, and expensive. For hospitals, the purchase of large-scale ultrasound equipment is expensive, and it is also necessary to train professional doctors; for patients, the use of the scene is limited, must go to a special department to check, generally have to make an appointment in advance or wait in line, the procedure is relatively cumbersome.
Portable ultrasound equipment can just make up for these weaknesses. First of all, the ease of portability and ease of operation of handheld ultrasound can greatly improve the diagnostic efficiency, facilitate access to the clinical department, and sink to the grassroots; secondly, in terms of price, handheld ultrasound also has great advantages.
Wide range of applications
Specifically, there are three main application scenarios for handheld ultrasound: hospital clinical departments, including bedside testing and ICU emergency services; primary medical market; and emergency out-of-hospital disasters. This is an incremental market that traditional large-scale ultrasound is difficult to reach.
First, with the miniaturization of ultrasound equipment, ultrasound technology has stepped out of the ultrasound department, entered the clinical department, assisted clinicians in bedside testing, and even entered the emergency department and ICU to save lives. For example, anesthesia before surgery, the doctor can accurately apply the needle under ultrasound guidance, which can reduce the number of needle insertions during anesthesia.
Second, the sinking of medical resources and the rise of primary medical care. The demand for ultrasound examination in China's vast primary health care market is enormous. However, due to the fact that the primary doctors do not use or understand ultrasound, the popularity of ultrasound examination is limited. In order to allow more grassroots doctors to use ultrasound extensively, "Palm Ultrasound + AI" will play a major role. By relying on an integrated artificial intelligence system, the ultrasound device can automatically prompt, such as whether the lesion may be malignant, can greatly reduce the pressure on the primary doctor.
Third, portable handheld ultrasound equipment is particularly useful at disaster relief sites, especially in remote mountainous areas. It can help doctors to accurately diagnose patients' injuries on the spot, and conveniently give timely treatment plans to determine which patients need on-site first aid and which need to be transferred immediately.