Cell phone associated medical devices have come under the limelight in the last decade following close behind the staggeringly rapid globalization of cell phone use. One of the more impressive transitions of medical technologies to be adapted for use with cell phones is the portable ultrasound probe. Sailesh Chutani, Ph.D., the CEO and Co-founder of Mobisante, has been a prominent entrepreneur that has been trail blazing this niche market. Prior to co-founding Mobisante, which created a smartphone ultrasound probe, Sailesh managed $100m of exploratory research investments in emerging technologies on behalf of Microsoft. He has had business leadership roles in companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Transarc. He has also co-authored the book, “Technology at the Margins,” which investigates the global influence of mobile phones on healthcare, education, and micro-finance.
Tom Fowler, Medgadget: How was the transition from being an executive at Microsoft to founding a medical device startup?
Sailesh Chutani: Many of the skills I learned at Microsoft served me well. But I had to develop many new skills as well- including those that required doing a lot with very few resources, moving really fast and nimbly, recovering quickly from mistakes, and balancing the short term and the long term on a constant basis. Being an outsider in the medical device industry also meant that I had a steep learning curve but at the same time I was able to look at the field with fresh eyes and no preexisting biases. That allowed Mobisante to come up with some interesting innovations.
Medgadget: What makes Mobisante unique in the ultrasound device industry?
Sailesh Chutani: We use commodity electronics (smart phones and tablets) to build the ultrasound devices instead of custom hardware. This allows us to leverage the economies of scale and performance improvements driven by an industry that drives almost a billion units in volume a year. We design our devices to be really simple to use – if you can use a smart phone, you can use our device. There is no learning curve. We will soon offer a cloud based PACS to which our device connects seamlessly and where images can be stored for quality control, second opinion, or diagnostics. We are able to make the device and service available at a fraction of the cost of the traditional ultrasound systems for the reasons articulated above.
Medgadget: What is your vision for Mobisante in 10 years?
Sailesh Chutani: We want to make ultrasound imaging available to every health care provider in the world no matter where they are. This can dramatically increase access to quality health care and reduce costs in the system by enabling early detection and better diagnosis. In some ways we are inspired by the original Microsoft vision of making a PC’s available at every desktop.
Medgadget: You built the world’s first phone-based ultrasound system. Are you looking into being the first in other medical device frontiers?
Sailesh Chutani: We will tackle the broader domain of medical imaging at some point but I expect that ultrasound will keep us busy for a while. We think we will be the first point-of-care ultrasound next year that has seamless integration with cloud PACS.
Medgadget: Could you offer 3 brief tips for aspiring medical device entrepreneurs?
Sailesh Chutani: Pick an important problem, find a great team, and keep in mind that all true innovation is initially greeted by the chorus of naysayers. Paying customers are the only truth that matters and not the opinion of experts.
Medgadget: If I gave you the 10,000 smartest scientists for one year to develop a product, what would you want to create?
Sailesh Chutani: I would create a personal health monitoring and diagnostic device that would be worn by each individual from the time of their birth until their death. This device would help not only monitor but guide the individual to make good choices about their health and lifestyle. It will be connected to a service that will be able to look for patterns at a global level, identify treatments that work as well as the emergence of epidemics, all in real time and practically no cost.