Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming to Ambulances

By Matt Kesinger CEO, of Forest Devices


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the power to improve healthcare delivery across the continuum of care. AI can more quickly identify hemorrhages on CT scan in the emergency department; it can make surgeries safer in the operating room, reduce mortality in intensive care units; and it can help patients recover faster after being discharged.


Artificial Intelligence could also assist emergency medical service (EMS) providers in treatment and triage decision-making in the pre-hospital environment. Take stroke for example. Patients suffering stroke need to be taken to designated stroke hospitals in order to receive adequate lifesaving treatment. Though stroke can be diagnosed with brain imaging at any hospital, it can only be treated at about 20% of them. Artificial intelligence can help EMS providers get stroke patients to the right hospital faster and reduce delays in treatment. Creators of artificial intelligence diagnostic tools, MaxQ AI (formally MedyMatch) has partnered with Samsung to deploy computer vision software on the approximately 15 ambulances in the country that have on-board CT scanners.  Forest Devices is developing a portable AI stroke identification device designed to be like an electrocardiogram (EKG) for the brain.


Unfortunately, there are significant barriers to deploying AI technology on U.S. ambulances, and reimbursement may be the biggest barrier. Ambulance companies are reimbursed on a three-tiered system based on the level of provider, not on specific tests or procedures performed by prehospital providers. This is disconnected from patient outcomes and quality of care. Therefore, ambulance companies have little financial incentive to adopt new technology.


One strategy that companies developing AI tools for the pre-hospital can employ in order to overcome the reimbursement barrier is to focus on the value to hospitals. Since hospitals are more likely reimbursed on a value-based system, they have a financial incentive for patients to receive the best care even in the pre-hospital environment. The “low-hanging fruit” are the 10% of ambulances that are owned by hospitals. MaxQ.AI is pursuing this strategy as all the CT ambulances are hospital owned. Forest Devices is going after the estimated 50% of the ambulances that partner with hospitals to restock disposable supplies. Using a razor- razorblade model, the company will sell devices at a very low cost and make the bulk of revenue from selling higher margin disposable electrodes used with the device to hospitals that restock ambulances.


Artificial Intelligence is changing the face of healthcare, and even ambulances are starting to see it. But innovative business strategies are needed to fully penetrate this market.





Forest Devices is a medical device startup located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We are the creators of ALPHASTROKE, the first stroke screening device that can potentially be used by all medical personnel in any environment.

By re-purposing established technology, our team is developing a novel and objective stroke detection method. It would enable early and fast triage so stroke patients go to the appropriate level of care.  Providing a faster, safer, and cheaper alternative, over 2 million unnecessary emergency room CT scans could be averted every year. With thousands of deaths and billions in costs annually due to inadequate stroke detection, we are determined to become the new standard of care.

All of our team members have been impacted by stroke to friends or family members.  At Forest Devices, we will change the way the world approaches stroke detection.

Click Here to learn more about Forest Devices