Healthcare Innovation Investment Watchlist
Cathie Wood, ARK Investment’s prophetess extraordinaire, has reinvigorated the move toward future-oriented, innovation-based investment strategies. Her calls on Tesla, Square, Roku, and Crisper have captured the mind’s of many, including your’s truly. A whole slew of financial/investment YouTube personalities have made it their purpose and concentration to trail Ark Invest and Cathie Wood.
Admittedly, I am also a follower of Cathie’s investment logic and the ever-evolving make-up of her ETFs. There is, however, one sector of innovation that Ark doesn’t seem so heavily invested in- that is in the area of non-genomic medical innovations. So taking Ark’s approach to innovative disruptors I have put together my own watchlist of companies and products that could revolutionize medicine, particularly looking at imaging and robotic surgery. Please note, this is not financial advice.
- Butterfly Network: Portable Ultra-Sound
Butterfly Network’s portable ultra-sound device iQ+ Pro transducer, along with Phillips’s Lumify device, are the two premium portable ultra-sound products on the market. The transducer, as with other ultra-sound devices, sends waves into a patient’s body to generate an image of internal masses. the iQ+ Pro, which fits perfectly in the palm of a hand, connects to an iPhone or iPad to display ultra-sound images on a handheld screen. It can provide a quick scan of the body for internal bleeding, organ damage, and pregnancies. Though the quality of the imaging is still being improved upon, these transducers have already been approved and used by medical practitioners. Such devices eliminate the wait time for emergency cases where a fast diagnosis is required.
The current cost of ultra-sound machines range from the high-four to mid-five figures. These traditional machines are also less transportable in situations where mobility becomes a medical issue. Due to these costs and limitations the current ultra-sound imaging market cap is estimated to be around $8 billion. The aforementioned competitor, Lumify, is only compatible with Android devices. Additionally, the Lumify device uses the Android device’s battery to operate as compared to the iQ+ Pro, which has its own battery in the probe itself.
Additionally, it is important to note that the Butterfly Network has received grants and investments from reputable organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After announcing their intent to go public via SPAC before the end of Q1 of 2021 (maybe this week?), Butterfly Network made waves in news cycles as the future of personalized medical imaging. It is currently trading under the ticker symbol LGVW (merging partner, Longview Acquisition Corp).
Handheld portable ultrasound machine | Butterfly iQ+
Ultra-fast imaging with the clarity you need. Perform guided procedures with ease using Biplane Imaging™ 3 iQ+ has been…
2. Hyperfine: Portable MRI
Staying with the theme of imaging, another method of imaging that is catching the portable, mobility wave are magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRI). Unlike ultrasounds, which use, you guessed it- sound waves, MRIs use magnets to align water molecules inside a person’s body. A scanner reads and transfigures these molecular alignments into 3-D images. FYI, I realize this is a Dummy’s down-low of how MRIs work.
Such powerful instruments are quite large in scale and pricing. These machines, which cost more than $1 million, often take up an entire room and are practically immovable. This makes MRIs extremely expensive to operate and difficult to provide in rural regions.
Hyperfine’s portable Swoop MRI machine is the fraction of the size of a traditional MRI machine, looks to overcome such barriers. pre-IPO. Like Butterfly Network, Hyperfine’s MRI development is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for potential use in poverty stricken countries and remote rural regions where MRI services are difficult to come by. These agile machines cost around $50,000 and can signal a complete transformation in medical practice. Hyperfine suggests the accessibility of such machines even for outpatient care in the future. Currently the company is pre-IPO, but will be one to watch for the ages, especially as some international trials come to successful completion.
Hyperfine - Portable MR Imaging: Bringing MRI to the Patient
Swoop™ is easy to maneuver down hallways, through doorways, in the elevator - straight to your patient's bedside. Your…
3. Intuitive: Robotic Surgery
Did you know that certain hospitals currently have robots performing certain types of human surgeries? Okay, not autonomous robots… with humanoid bodies and such… that is, at least not yet. I was recently told by a mechanical engineer in the surgical robotics space that an era in which the number of humans in a procedural room will decrease by over 50% all thanks to robotic surgery. The surgeons of the future will only need to possess enough fine motor skills to operate a Xbox controller to perform a surgery.
Surgical robotics decreases the expenses that go into run an operating room because it increases productivity, decreases the number of medical workers needed per surgery, and decreases the chance for human error and imprecision.
Large healthcare giants such as Stryker and Johnson & Johnson already have divisions and/or subsidiaries that work exclusively to develop surgical robotics. But the biggest fish in the pond that specializes in the field is the whale known as Intuitive, ticker symbol- ISRG. Intuitive’s two current products include the da Vinci system, which is a full on robotic surgery system that includes the central computer. The second is Ion, which utilized biopsy nodes that can reach deeper into hard to reach regions while enabling a high level of maneuverability and flexibility. This was a megalith, and the stock price is not the easiest to stomach.