Dr. Robot Will See You Now: How Deep Tech is Pushing the Future of Medicine
Why Singaporean startups are changing the way we think about healthcare
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
We’ve always been fascinated with the possibilities of man and machine working together to make lives better, easier. Today, technology is changing healthcare as we know it. Big corporations and startups all over the world are pushing the boundaries of innovation to diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately. With the use of deep technology, or what you see at work in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, healthcare practitioners are able to offer treatments that have minimal downtime and aid patients in better managing diseases.
These Singaporean startups, for instance, are proving just how much of a game changer deep tech can be in the world of healthcare through a variety of applications.
Assessment of wounds
Singapore-based KroniKare is an AI-based system for the assessment and management of chronic wounds. Through its platform, nurses can use their smartphones to take photos of their patients’ wounds. These pictures are then run through an AI module powered by a wound information database, enabling accurate diagnosis in just a fraction of the time it would take for a human to properly assess the wound. More importantly, KroniKare helps in the early detection of complications, such as infection and blood circulation problems, all in a non-invasive manner.
Founded by Dr Hossein Nejati and entrepreneur Ali Y Aladdin, KroniKare is just one of the many AI-powered platforms that are impacting healthcare systems across the world.
Robotics for surgeries
In the areas of robotics, medical robotics startup EndoMaster has something to say. The company developed a surgical system that combines minimally invasive endoscopic surgery and intuitive robotic-assisted surgery. EndoMaster was developed by Louis Phee, assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, and Ho Khek Yu, professor at the National University of Singapore.
As explained in this article from the National Research Foundation, the technology enables surgeons to perform incision-less surgeries, which could only have previously been done through open and laparoscopic surgery. The robotic arms, the article continues, act as an extension of the surgeon’s arms to be able to perform complex surgeries with precision and manoeuverability. As a result, the patient experiences less trauma, shorter procedure and healing time, and a lower risk of complications.
Early stage medtech startup NDR Medical Technology is also seeing the potential of robotics in surgical procedures and combining it with AI. The result is Automated Needle Targeting (ANT)—a proprietary robotic system that uses AI and image processing to help surgeons visualise the 3D location of the lesion in a patient’s body. With the surgeon’s skills and dexterity, the technology allows for greater accuracy for needle alignment and targeting of lesions. NDR Medical Technology was founded by Alan Goh, who serves as CEO, and Dr. Jason Ng, who is the chief technology officer.
Better analysis with medical imaging
Because of deep tech, doctors are better able to see and understand a patient’s condition. Co-founded by research scientist Dr. Dornoosh Zonoobi, Medo is another startup, which devised an algorithm that uses machine learning and cloud computing to make ultrasound imaging easy to interpret.
“We started working on deep learning for ultrasound because the device and technology [are] there, but there aren’t too many people who can read and interpret these images,” says Dr. Zonoobi in an article in the SGInnovate blog. “We want to democratise medical imaging and make it available to anyone, anywhere.”
Another Singapore-based startup that wants to make strides in medical imaging is See-Mode Technologies. Founded by husband-and-wife team Dr. Milad Mohammadzadeh and Dr. Sadaf Monajemi, See-Mode focuses on stroke prediction and aims to provide doctors with data to help them assess stroke patients better. The company built a multimodal image analysis software that detects risk factors for stroke based on medical imaging gathered through ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death, but current methods for predicting stroke tend to focus on how narrow the vessels are. “But recent clinical studies have shown that you can’t just rely on anatomy,” says Dr. Mohammadzadeh in the aforementioned SGInnovate article. Stoke is a complex disease, he says, and it has to be managed with new types of information, such as how quickly the blood flows through the affected blood vessels.
Using VR for better vision
But deep tech in healthcare goes beyond AI and imaging. Who would have thought that virtual reality (VR) headsets can become medical devices that can monitor eye and neurological health, too? A company called BetaSight seeks to improve current methods of detecting glaucoma, a disease that can cause irreversible blindness.
Co-founders Dr. Corey Manders and Martin Sawtell wanted to give the Humphrey, a decades-old test for glaucoma, an upgrade. Instead of sitting immobile and staring at a dot for a good couple of minutes, BetaSight’s test only requires patients to don the headset and follow points of lights with their eyes. Sawtell explains in an article from SGInnovate, “Instead of forcing yourself to stare at a dot, you can just be natural and look around. It makes the test much more accessible.”
From better medical testing to robotic surgery, these companies are proving the immense potential deep technology has in advancing medicine.
To learn more about how deep tech startups are improving healthcare and other industries, visit the SGInnovate blog.