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These healthcare start-ups are shaking up the industry by going digital

From AI-guided ultrasounds for more precise epidurals to an MRI technology that cuts scan times by half, these companies will be unveiling their latest innovations at the upcoming MEDICAL FAIR ASIA 2022

A comprehensive showcase of medical devices and technology at the previous in-person edition of the fair in 2018. PHOTO: MESSE DÜSSELDORF ASIA

Over the past two years, many Singaporeans would probably have consulted a doctor via video conferencing, otherwise known as a teleconsultation. This is one of the many developments in the healthcare industry that have been accelerated by the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of Singapore's healthcare landscape, and with the maturing of technologies such as medical sensor technology, a number of start-ups in the field have come up with innovative solutions to meet fast-evolving challenges. 

At the upcoming MEDICAL FAIR ASIA, visitors will be introduced to a range of up-and-coming healthcare technologies. They will be able to attend in-person and virtual presentations and panel discussions to hear about the current and future trends of the industry.

Organised by Messe Düsseldorf Asia (MDA), the fair is now in its 14th edition. The phygital event consists of a three-day physical exhibition from Aug 31 to Sept 2, followed by an online extension that runs till Sept 9, and it runs concurrently with another fair, MEDICAL MANUFACTURING ASIA.

One highlight of MEDICAL FAIR ASIA is the Start-Up Park. MDA managing director Mr Gernot Ringling says that the format of MEDICAL FAIR ASIA follows in the footsteps of MEDICA, a global leader in the trade fair sector and held in Düsseldorf, Germany. At MEDICA, start-up companies gain valuable access to top decision-makers from the medical industry and also experts from the business, research and political worlds. 

At MEDICAL FAIR ASIA’s Start-Up Park, exhibitors can expect to meet investors from healthcare accelerator programmes, venture capitalists and so on. 

“Start-ups companies are integral and essential to the healthcare ecosystem, particularly since the healthcare space is very innovation driven,” says Mr Ringling. 

So what is in the crystal ball for the future of Singapore’s healthcare industry?

These four start-ups showcasing their innovations at the fair could offer visitors a glimpse of what’s to come.

HiCura Medical uses AI to aim for precise needle placements

Inspired by Professor Alex Sia and Associate Professor Sng Ban Leong from KK Women's and Children's Hospital – who envisioned a better way to improve how epidurals are administered – HiCura Medical invented uSINE®, the world’s first AI ultrasound guidance software.

uSINE® was also borne out of the personal birthing experience of Ms Cailin, CEO of HiCura Medical. The mother of two had a traumatising epidural experience during the delivery of her second child.

A scan conducted with uSINE®. PHOTO: HICURA MEDICAL

The software pinpoints spinal landmarks in real time, helping doctors to locate and place epidural, spinal anaesthesia and lumbar puncture needles at the most precise area, and also to aim for a successful first needle attempt. The success rate can be as high as 92 per cent. 

Republic Power brings basic telemedicine to the masses

To reduce bottlenecks on the congested healthcare scene here, the RP Medbot lets users connect to doctors without having to wait for hours in a crowded clinic or hospital – all in the form of an autonomous health check medical booth.

The idea was inspired by the situation of developing countries. Mr Long ZiYang, CEO of Republic Power, and Mr Samuel Chan, Chief Operating Officer & Sales at Republic Power, say that they hope to bring RP Medbot to these countries where the access to basic healthcare is very low – a situation they describe as “heart-breaking”.

In the future, Republic Power has plans to add venipuncture, hearing and eyesight tests, and consultation for mental issues to their telemedicine platform. 

AlHealth.SG takes blood pressure and BMI readings using patient’s phone

We have all heard of the saying “prevention before cure”, but what about “intervention before prevention and before cure”? That is the belief of Mr Shaun Rossiter, CEO of AlHealth.SG.

The health app and fitness watch user was diagnosed with a life-threatening non-communicable disease – which refers to any chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease or hypertension – and wondered why his smart devices could not predict his risk factors earlier.

While clinical trials in Southeast Asia are still ongoing, he is excited to demonstrate his company’s next-generation AI-enabled technology that will allow users to measure their blood pressure with mobile phones or analyse their body mass index with a selfie.

He says: “The future of our health is literally in our hands.”

AIRS Medical speeds up MRI exams so it’s less daunting

Anyone who has taken an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam will know that it can mean spending as long as 90 minutes in a claustrophobic scanner. In some cases, the experience is so uncomfortable that patients have to be sedated.

On top of that, most hospitals require at least one month’s advance booking for non-urgent MRI exams, due to the labour-intensive nature of these scans. AIRS Medical hopes to change all this with SwiftMR, a deep-learning based MRI reconstruction software said to reduce MRI scan times by up to 50 per cent without compromising image quality. SwiftMR launched in South Korea last year and has processed more than 130,000 MRI scans so far.

The bonus: It is able to reconstruct images from older MRI scanners and restore them to a higher quality in less than two minutes.

SwiftMR is a deep-learning based MRI reconstruction software that is said to reduce MRI scan times by up to 50 per cent. PHOTO: AIRS MEDICAL

Mr Hyeseong Lee, CEO of AIRS Medical, says: “SwiftMR is gaining a reputation as a disruptive technology that is innovating a hardware-oriented industry by offering an equivalent software solution. This change is monumental as it will enable not only affluent countries but countries less invested in healthcare infrastructure to elevate the level of medical service through good use of technology.”

Mr Ringling says: “The healthcare industry is a ‘sunshine industry’ and the future of the healthcare industry looks very bright. Singapore could not be better placed as it’s recognised as among the best in the world.” 

About MEDICAL FAIR ASIA

Open to all those involved in the medical and healthcare industry, MEDICAL FAIR ASIA is a phygital edition that comprises an in-person exhibition at Marina Bay Sands from Aug 31 to Sept 2, followed by a digital extension from Sept 3 to Sept 9.

For more information, visit www.medicalfair-asia.com and www.medmanufacturing-asia.com

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