The Accessible MRI – #CES2020

The capital costs associated with purchasing and preparing a site for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine have limited the availability of this health diagnostic device. This is an issue in rural areas where the population density doesn’t justify the cost. Even, in urban hospitals, the demands and location of an emergency room relative to the location of a specialized MRI room causes delay in diagnosis.

Addressing these types of demands, Hyperfine debuted at CES2020 an MRI device on wheels that plugs into a standard AC outlet, does not require a room with special metal shielding, and within 6 minutes provides a brain scan that can be used to diagnose various brain trauma (e.g. internal bleeding, concussion, etc). At 1/20th the cost (approximately $100k versus $2M), it promises to make MRIs much more accessible.

The broll in the above video is of a brain scan performed just after the interview. As predicted by Hyperfine’s Director of Clinical Science, Brian Welch, Ph.D., M.B.A, Hyperfine received FAA approval for this device on August 11th, 2020.

Brain scans are their initial focus, but they have plans to extend it with different modules to scan limbs, for example. Its relatively open design provides a much better patient experience than the isolation often felt in a traditional MRI machine.

Another key differentiator is that the operation is simple, so any general medical professional could be trained in its use. The information is sent to the cloud, where it can be instantly analyzed by a radiologist located anywhere. Because of the relatively low-cost, it could be used as part of a regular monitoring program where changes to the brain are recorded over time.

Plus, their machine-learning algorithms help pull the signal from the noise. Their algorithms create volumetric views of the brain viewable via their tablet app.* Although the resolution may not be quite as good as the $2 million traditional machines, it could be a lifesaver for those who would otherwise have to wait for a diagnosis because of a lack of MRI capability.

*Note, the machine learning algorithms were not part of the August 11th, FDA clearance for marketing the Hyperfine product. Hyperfine Clinical Scientist, Samantha By, P.h.D., reports that those are works in progress with the FDA.