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A*STAR co-develops medical technologies for imaging diagnostics and patient monitoring

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) announced that technological advancements in imaging diagnostics and patient monitoring.

Leveraging GE Healthcare’s expertise in medical and information technologies, and A*STAR’s capabilities in data analytics and high-performance computing, the new technologies aid healthcare providers worldwide to deliver faster and more accurate diagnoses, improve treatment strategies, and achieve greater productivity in workflow. The announced developments are the result of a five-year joint research and development collaboration with GE Healthcare since 2014.

“Digital technology will disrupt and transform healthcare. Our partnership with GE Healthcare is a clear demonstration of how open innovation can work to develop cutting-edge solutions that have already benefited patients. This not only brings value to our partners, but provides tangible benefits for Singapore’s research, innovation and enterprise (RIE) and healthcare systems,” said Dr Benjamin Seet, Executive Director, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), A*STAR.

According to the press release, the demand for quality healthcare in Asia is on the rise against the backdrop of an ageing population, a growing middle class, and the prevalence of chronic diseases. 

The MedTech market in Asia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8%, to become the second largest in the world by 2020.

“Imaging technologies, such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, are integral to healthcare systems. They help doctors detect, diagnose and monitor medical conditions, from neurological disorders, heart disease to cancer, at their early stages,” the announcement reads.

One of the new solutions jointly developed by A*STAR and GE Healthcare teams improves the PET scan procedure using high performance computing, enabling quicker scans and shorter waiting time for patients at hospitals and clinics. The feature involves a more streamlined digital PET image reconstruction which results in a reduction of approximately 15 minutes off the existing workflow which would typically take almost 40 minutes to complete.

According to a healthcare provider that has adopted the technology, the new digital PET/CT scanner helped to increase the rate of scanning patients by 20%.

Another implemented technology is an innovation to improve image reconstruction algorithms in CT scans that eliminates image distortion caused by metal artefacts during CT scans.

Other co-developed innovation with ongoing implementation include:

(1)    A new technological platform for stroke treatment decision-making which features the use of data analytics to analyse CT scans of stroke patients, alongside other data such as vital signs and cognitive tests. The insights derived will enable a holistic approach towards decision-making for treatments that improves stroke care and patient outcomes.

(2)    Remote patient monitoring allows doctors to collect digital data, in the form of patients’ medical and health information, outside of conventional healthcare settings like hospitals. The improvement was made through boosting the adaptability of wireless docking systems to connect to a wide spectrum of portable electronic devices and strengthen the robustness of its devices to allow seamless and secure roaming of the wireless local area network. 

(3)    Inclusion of a feasibility study on automated graphical prescriptions for MRI scans. The innovative solution uses high performance computing to reduce the need for technologists with high levels of experience or in-depth anatomical knowledge, and as a result reduces the need for rescans while ensuring high quality data and a clear differentiation of diseased and healthy tissue, enabling doctors to diagnose with greater confidence.​

As part of the collaboration, A*STAR and its partner are developing a pipeline of digital solutions, including a diagnostic imaging system for Parkinson’s Disease and advanced capabilities for surgery motion tracking.

According to the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, the country is home to over 60 multinational MedTech companies which engage in activities such as manufacturing, and research and development.

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