Saturday, April 13, 2013

Canadian based Mediphan Inducted into Space Technology Hall of Fame

The Mediphan mediricorder.
Another Canadian company, essentially unrecognized at home, has been singled out for praise by the international space community.

Mediphan, a division of Ottawa based Epiphan Systems, was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame on April 11, 2013 during the 29th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the commercialization of medical technology originally developed by NASA aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

According to the April 11th, 2013 Canada News Wire (CNW) press release  "Epiphan Systems Inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame," the company was created "as a special unit to develop audio video capture, streaming, recording, and replay products and technologies for telemedicine and remote guidance applications."

But according to the April 11th post on the Space Foundation website under the title "Mediphan: Distance Doc and MedRecorder," the story is a little more complex. According to the website:
In 2000, NASA approached Dr. Scott Dulchavsky of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit to
Dr. Scott Dulchavsky.
develop medical ultrasound remote diagnostic techniques for use by non-expert astronauts aboard the ISS. The goal was to create the basis for an operational telemedicine capability for future advanced space missions. 
Beginning in 2003, Dulchavsky acted as principal investigator of the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) experiment, which was flown on the ISS and focused on astronauts conducting exams on one another to determine the accuracy and usability of ultrasound tools to diagnose injuries, illnesses and in-flight bone alterations.

During these experiments, Dulchavsky’s team was able to train astronauts without a medical background to use the remotely guided ADUM equipment in order to obtain a wide variety of diagnostic-quality medical images. Experts on the ground received these diagnostic-quality images from the ISS through satellite down link, which demonstrated the effectiveness of ultrasound as a multipurpose, remote diagnostic tool.

Encouraged by their success, Dulchavsky’s team brought aboard others at Henry Ford Hospital, plus Wyle Laboratories and Epiphan to commercialize and resell the developed technology. The key to the commercialization process was the development of cost-effective, technologically viable methods for sending ultrasound scans over long distances on Earth without loss of image quality, which was Epiphan's area of expertise.

Dr. Leroy Chiao
Eventually, the required skill-set was rolled into a new company (Mediphan), which then hired marketing experts and sales people to target satellite clinics, remotely located care facilities, traveling sports teams, medical residents, military units and other places where remote diagnosis of medical issues by non-medical personal is likely to be required.

While Mediphan and the Johnson Space Center (which managed the initial ADUM experiments) shared the spotlight as the inducted organizations, the award also cited Dr. Dulchavsky, Epiphan Systems CEO Mike Sandler and NASA astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao (who supervised many of the ADUM experiments as ISS expedition 10 commander from October 9th, 2004 – April 24th, 2005).

Wyle Laboratories was also cited for "organizational commendations."

While Canadians should certainly be pleased that Canadian companies continue to enjoy favored status in this area, it's odd to note that Canadian companies might also be perceived of as being better at commercializing US products than domestic inventions.

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