OSF Ventures has joined a $35-million funding round to support a start-up that’s developing a breakthrough handheld, artificial intelligence (AI) ultrasound device that will allow health care providers to make critical, real-time diagnostic decisions.

OSF Ventures, the investment arm of OSF HealthCare, is among investors in the latest Series B funding round to help Exo Imaging achieve FDA approval and commercially develop its handheld ultrasound platform. The device can be used for the entire body – from looking at 3D images of the heart and other organs to imaging a person’s vascular system or musculoskeletal features. It is capable of penetration depth, fidelity and 3D imaging that still fits in the palm of a user’s hand.

One of the major investors in Exo Imaging is Intel, which has microchip technology that could be used in the development of the ultrasound platform.

“Image quality is so important, and Intel’s involvement was a significant indicator to us that this is going to be successful technology,” according to Stan Lynall, vice president of Venture Investments for OSF HealthCare.

Exo’s universal imager is being designed specifically with convenient patient care and cost savings in mind, which is why it was appealing to OSF Ventures and why the company has a strategic investment focus on those two areas. It offers sharper images but at a much more affordable price than current imaging technology. Lynall stresses this advancement could transform the way OSF clinicians offer care by improving their ability to diagnose and provide the most effective treatment for a variety of OSF patients.

In the course of vetting Exo Imaging, the Ventures team consulted with physicians at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria (UICOMP) who indicated that the ultrasound device is being deployed in many cases as a less-costly and non-invasive but effective imaging tool.

“There is an emerging trend of ultrasound being more widely accepted among a variety of disciplines, and more medical students are being taught to read and interpret results as a consequence of this changing view,” said Lynall.

“Having OSF Healthcare on board as an investor is invaluable in providing our engineers with an opportunity for testing and feedback of our Exo Ultrasound Platform,” said Sandeep Akkaraju, CEO and president at Exo. “With clinicians available to them in the final development and testing phases, our engineers will be able to make adjustments quickly and course correct as needed, to ensure the Exo Ultrasound Platform provides maximum benefit to healthcare providers bedside, in the Emergency Department, or an office setting.”

Exo plans to add a layer of AI that’ll offer support for users to make quicker, more accurate life-saving decisions on behalf of patients.