Butterfly Network Expands Applications for Smartphone-Connected Ultrasound: Interview

Butterfly Network, the digital health unicorn democratizing medical imaging, is continuing to add new applications for its handheld, single probe, smartphone-connected ultrasound technology. The Butterfly iQ, the multi-purpose pocket-sized ultrasound, won FDA clearance a couple years ago and earlier this year received the CE Mark, clearing it for distribution in Europe.

The innovation found within Butterfly iQ centers around the device’s matrix array of microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors. As part of an integrated circuit, Butterfly iQ provides high-resolution performance comparable to that of a full-size ultrasound machine. Similar to the ubiquity of cameras on smartphones today, the company envisions a world in which individuals and medical professionals can all have access to ultrasound imaging capabilities in their pocket.

More recently, the company announced iQ Vet bringing Butterfly’s ultrasound on-a-chip technology to veterinary medicine for the first time. Increased accessibility of ultrasound can replace the need for X-ray imaging, avoiding exposure to radiation and reducing discomfort for pets. iQ Vet launched this week in US markets.

Joining Butterfly Network to support the company’s new growth is Dr. Richard Markell in the role of Director of Commercial Strategy, Veterinary.

To learn more about Butterfly’s recent efforts since receiving their CE Mark as well as the company’s new strategy, Medgadget had a chance to hear more from Butterfly Network Chief of Staff and Head of Growth, Darius Shahida and Dr. Markell.

Medgadget: Butterfly iQ has been in use in the United States for over a year now. Where has Butterfly seen the greatest adoption in terms of clients and use cases? 

Darius Shahida, Chief of Staff and Head of Growth, Butterfly Network

Darius Shahida: Butterfly iQ has seen great traction with the medical community since it began shipping in the fall of 2018. Tens of thousands of healthcare professionals are using Butterfly iQ, from doctors to nurses to emergency health services. The device is being used around the world to expand the use of ultrasound in hospitals, disaster relief efforts, mobile clinics and in top medical schools in the U.S. With the launch of Butterfly Enterprise and Butterfly iQ Vet, we expect to see even more adoption by entire hospital systems and veterinarians respectively.

Medgadget: Since receiving CE Mark earlier this year, how has Butterfly iQ been received in Europe? How is expansion into that market going to date?

Shahida: The reception to Butterfly iQ has been overwhelmingly positive and it has expanded quickly throughout Europe. Butterfly iQ now ships to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. 

Medgadget: Can you share any anecdotes on how Butterfly’s technology is making an impact on the accessibility and use of ultrasound technology?

Shahida: In addition to its applications in hospitals and in the field, this year, UC Irvine’s School of Medicine surprised 100+ students at its White Coat Ceremony by gifting them their own personal Butterfly iQ. Butterfly Network works with a number of schools such as UCONN and NYU to bring point of care ultrasound to the next generation of medical professionals. Butterfly iQ was recently used by Bridge To Health in Uganda to help the trainees in the community learn how to use ultrasound to detect childhood pneumonia.

Medgadget: How does Butterfly Network’s move into veterinary imaging align with the company’s growth strategy? 

Shahida: At Butterfly, our mission is to democratize medical imaging by bringing access to those that need it most. With the introduction of iQ Vet, we aim to fundamentally change the practice of medicine by making ultrasound technology as readily available as the stethoscope – whether for human or animal healthcare. We’re incredibly excited to bring this new technology to the world and create positive change that will impact millions of lives – including animals.

Medgadget: What is the difference between iQ and iQ Vet that makes the technology applicable for animals over humans?

Dr. Richard Markell, Butterfly Network’s Director of Commercial Strategy, Veterinary

Dr. Markell: The major difference between Butterfly iQ and Butterfly iQ Vet is the software. iQ Vet provides preset settings for scans that are specifically designed to capture ultrasound images of animals, including AI-enabled software that makes scanning and high-quality image acquisition easier. This has allowed us to create the world’s first single-probe, handheld ultrasound system capable of scanning every part of an animal’s body, from hamsters to horses.

Medgadget: Are there other markets or use cases where Butterfly is considering expansion in the near future?

Shahida: Currently, 4.7 billion people lack access to medical imaging. Our goal is to democratize healthcare by making ultrasound universally accessible and affordable. The launch of Butterfly iQ Vet shows the impact the ultrasound-on-a-chip technology continues to have on how the world practices medicine, impacting the lives of both humans and animals alike. Vets working with small and large animals will now be able to make better care decisions by having a window directly into an animal’s health.

Medgadget: What are some of the next steps for Butterfly Network?

Shahida: Moving forward, we’ll continue our goal of democratizing medical imaging for all, bringing our ultrasound-on-chip technology to every corner of the world in order to impact as many lives as possible. At Butterfly, we first reinvented ultrasound with a smartphone-connected device powered by a single silicon chip. Now, our full-stack combination of hardware, cloud, and AI allows data to be continuously fed to Butterfly’s intelligence ecosystem, making it unlike any handheld ultrasound device created before.

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Product page: Butterfly iQ…

Flashbacks: Butterfly iQ Multi-Purpose Pocket-Sized Ultrasound Now Available in Europe; Butterfly iQ, a Whole Body Ultrasound That Fits in a Pocket