Agricultural testing company Techion has turned its expertise to human health analysis, announcing a deal with Awanui Labs to enable remote analysis of microscope-based tests from regional clinics and hospitals.
Techion’s imaging tech is used to detect parasites in cattle and sheep and is now being turned to make testing human medical samples faster and more cost effective.
Awanui is a national lab and pathology company that analyses samples for over 7 million patients in New Zealand annually, offering diagnostic services to hospitals and medical specialists. The company claims about 70% of NZ’s medical diagnostic testing market.
Regional centres with smaller populations have struggled to recruit and retain trained staff for diagnostic work, and exposure to some sample types can be lower than in busier urban centres, meaning samples have to be referred to other centres for analysis.
Techion CEO Greg Mirams said integrating a digital diagnostic solution will complement Awanui’s regional services.
“We have proven how powerful this approach can be in animal health and I believe it will energise the conversation around how we deliver the future for regional healthcare in NZ,” he said.
Using artificial intelligence technology will automate or assist remote scientists and technicians, enabling them to analyse samples and improve accuracy.
Samples no longer have to be transported off site and for some tests Techion’s AI platform can automatically spot and raise any alerts for clinicians, reducing their need to review thousands of sample slides showing no areas of concern, reducing pressure upon them.
They will also be able to pass on particular samples of concern to remote expert clinicians if required.
“When you think about it, the days when you used to have someone developing your X-rays next door to where they are read are gone, because it can all be done digitally.
“With this partnership, the microscope-based diagnostic world could finally catch up with other areas of healthcare,” said Awanui Labs microbiologist Professor James Ussher.
The collaboration will initially focus upon developing a solution for testing fluids, but a wider range of microbiology, pathology and haematology applications will be developed in the future.
The collaboration will be employing Microsoft cloud and AI tech to enable the microscope-based tests to be analysed remotely from regional clinics and hospitals.