EchOpen involves a group of experts, designers, programmers and a large online community to collaboratively develop a low-cost solution to diagnostic orientation in hospitals, based on open-source and mobile ultrasound technologies
EchOpen began in 2015 with the aim to tackle a series of issues related to the design of medical devices for diagnostics using ultrasound technology in hospitals in both developing and developed countries. Ultrasound technology is usually embedded in large equipment that requires patients to be moved around, and it is usually very expensive and beyond the means of hospitals in deeloping countries. Furthermore, it requires qualified paramedics to analyse the results and is proprietary technology, so it cannot be fixed or understood easily by technicians.
The project tries to radically transform diagnostic orientation with an open-source device, which was developed by a core team of experts working with designers, doctors and engineers. The device is a universal ultra-portable ultrasound imaging or medical visualisation tool, intended to accompany health professionals in the clinical practice of diagnostic orientation. The echo-stethoscope primarily helps physicians who have never taken ultrasound images and who have taken a 48-hour training program to master the gesture and the concept.
Today, diagnostics require a long period of training because doctors use traditional stethoscopes; but EchOpen allows a quick diagnosis through a mobile portable device that can be used in direct contact with the patient’s body.
As results are visualised in real-time through the mobile device, diagnosis time is reduced dramatically because doctors can quickly analyse the results. Alternatively, paramedics in remote areas can send the data via the web to receive feedback from doctors remotely.
The project is currently an assembled functional prototype, tested with a community of doctors and developed by the core team together with legal advisors, hardware experts and designers. It has been made possible by the contribution of professionals actively participating in studies and testing, while a design office has taken care of the regulatory aspects such as the certification. As a result, the prototype can be distributed worldwide.
The core team consists of about 10 people while the larger development team is about 30 people. The online community numbers some 500 people. The core team are able to invite active participants in the online community into the development team.
An online guide provides guidelines on how to contribute to the project, how to participate in the several subgroups within the community, and how to set up anhardware lab with tools to build the device and run tests. The main workshop is based in Paris and is open to all who want to contribute to testing and developing the technology.
The project has been funded through grants from non-profits, like the Fondation Pierre Fabre which supported the first phase of the project in 2015, and partner organisations which finance the activity of the core team. The choice of an open-source approach has allowed the founders to reach more organisations and to easily find more partners.