Emerging technologies in the biotechnology industry show promising signs of providing the right treatment to stroke victims. Each year, thousands of individuals are rushed to the hospital for strokes, and the right treatment may not be readily available. One of the main problems is identifying the extent and seriousness of the stroke and applying the best procedure. Strokes are an interruption of the brain’s blood supply that deprives the brain of oxygen. This blood clot is very time sensitive as matters of minutes are critical in the damage and the recovery. Current and standard process in the US involves rushing victims to the nearest hospital, running hours of tests and scans, and possibly transferring victims to a facility that specializes in strokes. New technology from Viz.ai Inc. of San Francisco and Neural Analytics Inc. of Los Angeles show technology that may accurately and significantly reduce the time it takes to identify the source and extent of the stroke. With time of the essence, medical technology advancements may provide more efficient methods in diagnosis and treatment.
Timing is a major issue because patients are often rushed to the nearest hospital, regardless of the best treatment, and are observed and analyzed for hours before the treatment can be identified and implemented. After hours of tests and scans, the patient may need to be transferred to other facilities that better accommodate the respective circumstances—this is also a time-consuming process. During this long process, the extent of the stroke can further damage the brain tissue and may result in large differences between recovery, disability, or death. Recently, an innovate and effective procedure called a thrombectomy has been utilized. This is often the best chance for survival as the procedure involves removing the clot to restore blood flow. Unfortunately, the extent of the damage may be too far to conduct such a procedure. Per the Wall Street Journal and the Circulation, 984 patients showed treatment delays that led to far worse outcomes due to transference to hospital that provide thrombectomies. To counter this issue, Viz.ai Inc. and Neural Analytics Inc. are developing technologies that will effectively reduce the time of identification. FDA approved Viz.ai showed that the company’s software was able to notify a stroke neurologist on average 7.3 minutes after the brain imaging took place—compared with hours that it takes conventional procedures. Furthermore, the technology accurately identified severe strokes. Another similar technology is developed by Neural Analytics that uses ultrasound devices that produces images of the patient’s measure of blood flow to the brain. It will then cross-reference the patient’s image to its database that consists of thousands of brain blood-flow images to quickly identify the problem. This will allow paramedics to direct the patient to a facility that provides thrombectomies, for instance. Although these innovations show promise, cost is an issue. The technologies are not cost-prohibitive, but wide-spread adoption by hospitals may be difficult as well as expensive.
The timing and process of stroke diagnosis can be significantly improved by the implementation of these biotechnology innovations. Unfortunately, costs and adoptions may hinder the wide-spread adoption of the software. The issue behind this cost factor is that proprietary assets may hold the power of price control. This price control ability can be seen in other sectors of the healthcare industries such as pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies that obtain a ground-breaking treatment need to recoup their investments in the research and development division. Often times, ground-breaking innovations can yield supernormal profits because other market players do not have the same proprietary products. This allows companies to set the price as the elasticity of demand is low—meaning people are willing to pay large amounts for the products. This is seen in companies that obtain patents or pharmaceuticals that have treatments for terminal diseases—people are willing to pay for their survival.