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When all medical staff have to wear protective clothing to work, they cannot realize daily diagnostic methods, such as look, listen and touch. Also, doctors rely on iconography and auxiliary examinations to diagnose diseases. The particularity of infectious diseases makes it inconvenient for patients to move, and for doctors to use bedside diagnosis. Ultrasonic diagnosis boasts the characteristics of repeatability, non-radiation, and high safety. The handheld ultrasound is flexible, compact and wireless, which is easy to disinfect and use. It can be used for the observation and evaluation of both emergency cases and severe cases. In addition, it can be used for real-time remote consultation based on the cloud platform, which effectively avoids cross-infection of medical workers.
In the middle of January, the early period of COVID-19, Shanghai Soundwise Technology Co., Ltd. and Chengdu Stork Healthcare CO., Ltd. donated handheld ultrasound devices to Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Sichuan and Chengdu 363 Hospital affiliated to Southwest Medical University.
In late January, the demand surged after the epidemic broke out, resulting in a relatively passive situation in the early stage. News of the shortage of supplies for hospitals in Wuhan was widely circulated. Zhang Zhuo, CEO of Soundwise Technology, said, "We heard from the first batch of Shanghai's first aid medical team in Hubei that flexible handheld ultrasound device is also urgently needed in the harsh environment of the frontline."
"In a special environment, a lot of equipment can't be used at all. But even with three layers of protection, Stork ultrasound equipment can still work. Because of the wireless design, the wireless portable ultrasound is more simple in disinfection. Doctors outside the isolation area can conduct remote consultation through communication to reduce cross-infection among medical workers. "
Stork handheld ultrasound equipment was first designed for first aid and field surgery application scenarios, which happened to come in handy in this incident.
At the time when Wuhan had already been in lockdown, Stork and Soundwise suffered a lot in order to deliver the first batch of handheld ultrasound equipment to front-line medical staff. When donating the second batch of materials to Wuhan, Stork and the Soundwise team thought of a way to parachute the equipment from the planes to Hubei.
The main purpose is to solve doctors' problems, rather than donate materials
After delivering the materials to Wuhan, Zhang Zhuo had thought he could take a rest, but they're still existed great challenges.
On the one hand, more medical teams hoped to have handheld ultrasound equipment after the first-line use in epidemic areas. Therefore, Stork and Shenzhen also sent the equipment to the aid medical teams of Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province.
On the other hand, how to optimally adapt doctors in special scenarios during the epidemic is also challengeable. During the COVID-19, doctors' understanding of the virus is deepening, and their demand for operation in the special environment is also increasing. Stork and Shenzhen hope to reduce the burden of doctors as much as possible and provide the best solution for doctors through continuous optimization.
Zhang Zhuo said: "in order to respond to the needs of the front line in a timely manner, the engineering team is 24 hours online to communicate the needs of doctors. For example, some doctors suggested that it was troublesome to label and input information, so we quickly equipped iFlytek's voice recognition system on the device, which could realize fast input."
In addition to responding to the special needs in the epidemic environment in a timely manner and adding specific modules, the biggest problem is that most doctors working in Wuhan are not professional ultrasound experts, so they are not familiar with ultrasound and need to learn how to use the instrument in a short time.
"We experienced a case where the first-line cardiologists in Wuhan encountered a lot of inconveniences when treating critically ill patients. As they are not professionals in the ultrasound field, they hope that the instrument has the functions of rapid diagnosis, automatic measurement, and preliminary judgment. Therefore, we embedded the artificial intelligence module in the instrument and completed these functions in one day for first-line doctors to directly obtain clinical parameters such as ejection fraction (EF), EDV, and ESV."
Since all doctors in Wuhan work in shifts 24 hours a day, Stork and Soundwise also respond to doctors' needs online all the time.
Responding to the needs of the epidemic area in a timely manner is not only a simple process of adding modules and functions but also a process of optimization from the clinical operation. However, urgent R&D time makes everything more difficult.
But Zhang Zhuo said that this was actually a good thing because rapid development could test the team's execution and R&D capabilities. The rapid application of iterative products could provide an intensive process for engineers.
In addition to long-term R&D investment, Soundwise Technology cooperates with Stork over the software and hardware coordination, with Stork providing hardware services, and Soundwise providing software support.
"The combination of the two actually exerts the effect of 1+1>2. In fact, this anti-pandemic war also reflects that the software is also a must for handheld ultrasonic instrument to be truly applied in clinical practice."
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