NYU’s Wearable MRI | Hospitals Outsourcing Imaging | CT’s MPPR Rebound

We see this as a multibillion-dollar market that’s just emerging. Where robotics surgery was 10 to 20 years ago is where we think focused ultrasound is today,

Maurice Ferré, CEO of the Koch Brothers-backed company Insightec, in an announcement that (also) revealed the treatment of the company’s first patient with its ExAblate Neuro non-invasive focused ultrasound Parkinson’s therapy product.


The Imaging Wire

NYU’s Wearable MRI
Turns out wearable technology isn’t just an eHealth play. A NYU team developed a new wearable MRI element design that uses the voltage of magnetic waves and doesn’t require RF coils like traditional MRIs, allowing a new level of flexibility and improved ligament and tendon imaging. The new element debuted as part of an MRI glove, which provided the first clear images of the hand’s bones, tendons, and ligaments moving together, allowing a range of potential applications (repetitive stress injury diagnosis, surgery guidance, prosthetic design, etc.). Despite largely glove-focused press coverage, this new technology might support far more than just hand imaging, as NYU revealed ambitions to bring “a new era of MRI design, perhaps including flexible sleeve arrays around injured knees or comfy beanies to study the developing brains of newborns.”

 

Fujifilm Launches Pair of New Endoscopes in Japan
Fujifilm Japan updated its endoscope lineup last week, launching a pair of systems that may soon expand to Western markets. The manufacturer introduced its 6000 Endoscope System, touting the scope’s enhanced image function used to identify small vessels on the surface of the internal layers of organs, new LED light sources used to spot microscopic lesions, and four available scopes for different upper- and lower- GI purposes. The company also updated its duodenum (top of small intestine) endoscope line with the launch of the ED-580T endoscope, which is highlighted by its reduced treatment time, improved flexibility and insertability, instrument exchange functionality, and easier-to-clean design.

 

Hospitals Outsourcing Strategies Target Medical Imaging
According to a recent survey from Black Book Market Research, medical imaging is leading an overall trend towards outsourcing within hospitals, where 98% of 4,595 respondents indicated they are considering some level of 3rd party outsourcing in an effort to cut costs. Diagnostics, specifically teleradiology and medical imaging equipment, led all services that hospitals are considering outsourcing, due to the high cost of updating hospital imaging centers.

 

Shimadzu, Agfa, ViewRay, and Onex (Caresteam) Announce Q1 2018 Financials
The fourth wave of medical imaging players posted financial reports for the January-March period, revealing strong medical performances from Agfa, ViewRay, and Shimadzu (FY2018), but continued struggles by Caresteam and its parent company Onex.

  • Agfa Gevaert’s Q1 2018 financials revealed a 6.7% drop in revenue to €549 million ($656 million) and a 6.7% drop in net profit to €7 million ($8.3 million) due to the strong euro and secular challenges facing its printing business. The company’s HealthCare business posted a particularly strong quarter, driven by growth in hardcopy film sales and positive results from the reorganization of its Chinese distribution channels in 2017.
  • ViewRay announced impressive Q1 2018 sales growth, with revenue increasing an amazing 20x to $26.2 million, driven by four new MRIdian Systems installations and one upgrade. The company also has a strong pipeline, with MRIdian Systems orders nearly doubling from $12.3 million to $21.2 million and its MRIdian order backlog increasing from $145 million to $195 million. ViewRay even approached net profitability, posting a $7.5 million net loss, which is still an improvement compared to Q1 2017’s $28 million net loss.
  • Shimadzu’s fiscal year ending March 31 was highlighted by a 9.9% revenue increase to ¥376.53 billion ($3.4 billion) and a 12.7% increase in profit to ¥28.84 billion ($264 million). The company’s medical business saw revenue increase 2.4% during the year to ¥65.916 billion ($603 million) due to strong sales in North America, Europe, and China.
  • Carestream’s private equity parent company, Onex, saw revenue increase 5.8% to $6.02 billion, while its net income improved from a $936 million loss to a $164 million loss. The company’s medical imaging business posted a 10.4% drop in revenue to $377 million, while the unit’s net loss improved to $13 million versus a $31 million loss in Q1 last year.

 

CT to See Greatest Benefits from MPPR Adjustment
A recent report in the American Journal of Neuroradiology revealed that CT will benefit the most from the adjustment to the multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR), which saw a 25% reimbursement reduction in 2012 that was corrected to just 5% last year. CT-based areas saw the greatest negative impact from the initial 25% reduction, applied to reimbursements for multiple advanced diagnostic imaging procedures performed on the same patient in a single day, and therefore are experiencing the greatest rebound due to the new more-modest 5% reduction. Overall, the right-sized MPPR payment rate is expected to give radiologists $64 million in additional Medicare reimbursement annually.


The Wire

  • Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Biosense Webster, launched its new CARTO VIZIGO Bi-directional Guiding Sheath intended to reduce electrophysiologists’ reliance on fluoroscopy to determine location during catheter ablation treatments for heart arrhythmias.
  • Israeli ENT endoscopy company, 3NT Medical, raised a $15 million venture investment from a group led by major endoscopy player, Hoya (joining angel investors including LongTec China Ventures), to help fund the development of 3NT’s single-use endoscopes and commercialize its Sinusway platform in the US and Europe.
  • Insightec, an Israeli startup backed by the Koch Brothers, treated its first Parkinson’s patient using its ExAblate Neuro non-invasive ultrasound therapy system, which is in phase 3 trials and uses focused ultrasound therapy and MRI guidance to “destroy” affected areas of patients’ brain.
  • Contributing to an unusually big week for wearable imaging, researchers from Vanderbilt University are developing an ultrasound helmet that could provide real-time images of the brain during surgery, support understanding of the brain’s responses to feelings/actions, or even allow people to control software and robotics with their thoughts.
  • DESY scientists unveiled a new experimental imaging method that uses x-ray free-electron lasers and graphene carbon film to achieve improved analysis of amyloid fibrils protein strands, which are known to influence neural diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • A multi-center trial found that MRI-guided biopsies are superior to standard ultrasound-guided biopsies for diagnosing prostate cancer, with MRI-guided biopsies detecting cancer in 38% of patients versus 26% with ultrasound-guided biopsies.
  • Siemens recently installed its Biograph Horizon PET/CT at the Hackensack University Medical Center, which already used a range of Siemens devices.
  • A recent study by the Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Clinic validated the use of structured radiology reporting, finding that revision rates for head and neck CT angiography exams fell by 50% when residents used a structured reporting template (vs. free-text alternatives).
  • Caresteam announced a deal with Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, NC that included the DRX-Evolution Plus system with two DRX Plus detectors for its main radiology room, a DRX-Excel Plus radiology/fluoroscopy system for its offsite imaging center, and a DRX 2530C portable imaging system for its NICU.
  • A Johns Hopkins report found that clinicians view radiologist reports (viewed in 85.7% of all cases) more often than viewing actual images (53.2% of all cases) and much more often than cases where clinicians only viewed images (under 1.2%), underscoring the value of radiologist interpretations to clinicians.
  • AI software developer EnvoyAI, advanced visualization firm TeraRecon, and UK PACS company Insignia Medical Systems announced a partnership to offer AI imaging workflows in the UK.
  • Faxitron’s VisionCT 3D CT system for breast cancer specimen assessments became the first product of its kind to receive FDA clearance, supporting detailed margin assessments by automatically taking images around the entire specimen and then reconstructing a navigable 3D rendering for analysis.
  • According to a recent report from Kaiser regarding the US’s higher healthcare spending, the US also has more MRI units, performs more MRI exams, and patients pay significantly more for MRIs ($3,031 avg.) than most comparable countries.

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