Technology of Japanese start-up featured by doctors (Series ＃4）
The first part: AMI to conduct research and development of Super Stethoscope and remote auscultation system
Expectations for remote auscultation by the Super Stethoscope against decreasing auscultation in the COVID-19 pandemic
In my medical treatment as a Doctor of Respiratory and infectious diseases, I frequently perform auscultation during consultations and realize its importance. For example, auscultation is a vital examination finding to remind patients of the disease, such as wheezes*¹ and rhonchi*² in bronchial asthma and fine crackles*³ in interstitial pneumonia. In addition, inhalation rales, which may indicate airway obstruction, are essential in emergency medicine, where instantaneous decisions are required.
Unfortunately, given the risk of infection in the COVID-19 pandemic since last year, the frequency of auscultation may be decreasing. Doctors from other departments told me that they usually had used auscultation not so frequently. But, after the pandemic, they did not use auscultation anymore. I have also heard from some doctors that they have begun to utilize other tests such as imaging tests to supplement what they used to determine by auscultation.
Under the situation, the conditions for online medical treatment have been moderated. Also, these days, keywords such as telemedicine have been occasionally heard among physicians. Currently, many medical venture companies are starting their business in digital health and telemedicine. In this article, as a physician, I would like to introduce the approach to the Super Stethoscope developed by AMI (AMI Inc.), which is engaged in a very interesting business.
AMI is a start-up company with a mission to "Achieve rapid medical innovation." They conduct research and development of Super Stethoscopes (telemedicine stethoscope with a heart disease diagnosis assist function) and remote stethoscope systems. They raised 540 million yen in Series A funding in 2020. It has also been selected for the "Innovation Promotion Project for Accelerating AI Chip Development" by NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) in 2020. In addition, they have made numerous presentations at academic conferences, including ARIA (Alliance for Revolution and Interventional Cardiology Advancement), JET (Japan Endovascular Treatment Conference), Japan Primary Care Association, and the Japan Telemedicine and Telecare Association. A diverse group of medical professionals and engineering professionals are working on research and development.
How did I, a clinician, come to know about AMI? It was because of “COVID-19,” which is currently raging around the world, including in Japan. Around March of last year, we started accepting COVID-19 patients at our hospital. It was an unknown viral infection, and I remember that we started treating anxiety, especially in the first case, due to confusion in the field.
(To be continued in the following part)
Whistling, musical breath sounds that are worse during expiration than inspiration and involve narrowing of small airways. Wheezing can be a physical finding or a symptom and is usually associated with dyspnea.
Low-pitched respiratory sounds that can be heard during inspiration or expiration. They occur in various conditions, including chronic bronchitis.
*³ fine crackles
Discontinuous adventitious breath sounds, and short, high-pitched sounds.
- AMI Inc. Website https://ami.inc/
- AMI Inc. Press release “About “COVID-19 Remote Auscultation Project” Jun 30, 2020, https://ami.inc/news/20200428/
- “Evaluation of the Pulmonary Patient” MSD MANUAL Professional Version, Feb 2021, https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-jp/professional/pulmonary-disorders/approach-to-the-pulmonary-patient/evaluation-of-the-pulmonary-patient
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