In late September, Exo (pronounced “echo”) introduced its handheld ultrasound device named Iris. Last week at HLTH, I stopped by the company’s booth for a demo and to hear more about how the device’s commercialization is going.
With Iris, Exo is seeking to take point-of-care ultrasound beyond just the emergency medicine field — into areas like urgent care, primary care and the home. The grander vision is that the device will one day be in the pockets of every care provider, said Kurt Hammond, the company’s chief commercial officer.
Iris, which is sold for $3,500, is similar to other handheld ultrasound devices sold by GE, Philips and Butterfly Network in the sense that they are all designed to replace the large, cumbersome ultrasound machines that most people are familiar with. Exo’s device stands out from the rest because its AI does a better job of making the ultrasound process easy and fast for providers, Hammond argued.
“There are devices on the market that are less expensive, but medical professionals haven’t figured out the use cases for those devices yet because there’s not an AI tool that’s enabling them to do it,” he said.
To use the device, a provider will plug the silicon-based probe into their smartphone using a cord — the phone screen is where Exo displays its AI-powered guidance. The interface helps users know which parts of the body to scan and what to look for in the ultrasound.
Once a user chooses which organ they want to look at, Iris’ internal settings automatically adjust to deliver the best image quality for that specific area of the body. Exo’s technology captures images with a 150-degree field of view and 30-centimeter depth, which allows users to see a patient’s entire liver or a full-body fetus.
To change the ultrasound image’s brightness or depth, users can use simple swipe-based controls on the device. The three-in-one probe can also easily switch between linear, curved and phased arrays, whereas clinicians would need to switch between different probes in the past, Hammond noted.
Additionally, Iris’ AI tools quickly let users know if the patient’s organ looks like its functioning normally or abnormally. Iris comes equipped with FDA-cleared Exo’s AI solution for the bladder, which can determine the patient’s bladder volume in seconds. The company also recently submitted its cardiac and pulmonary AI models for FDA clearance. Hammond said the company expects to receive clearance for those solutions in “the next 90 days or so.” In the demo I saw, the screen let us know that the model’s heartbeat was in a normal range after just a few seconds of use.
After a clinician uses Iris, they can easily document the ultrasound in the EHR. It is up to the clinician to decide how they want to document the ultrasound — it may have been something they did as a billing exercise, or it may have been something they did as a quick check-in to rule something out when triaging a patient, Hammond pointed out.
The overarching goal of Iris is to give care providers “immediate answers at the point of care,” he noted.
“Think about every ambulance that’s out there across the U.S. — they do not have ultrasound, but they should. And so should primary care doctors who are treating certain patient populations — maybe not doctors who treat patient populations that are between 20 and 30, but if they treat an aging population where congestive heart failure is a concern, they should have this,” Hammond explained.
Photo: Natali_Mis, Getty Images