Philips Bolts-on | Siemens’ Flagship PET/CT | AI in France

“When I started in radiology, they said, ‘OK, don’t worry about reading the chest X-rays because the computers will read them.’ That was 35 years ago!”

– Johns Hopkins Medical radiology professor, Dr. Elliot Fishman, addressing the long road to AI-enabled radiology and the additional progress that still needs to be made before we arrive.


The Imaging Wire

Philips Bolts-on EPD Solutions
Philips CEO Frans van Houten meant it when he told us more “bolt-on” acquisitions were coming. Philips’ latest acquisition took place this week, buying EPD Solutions, a specialist in image-guided procedures for cardiac arrhythmias. The €250 million ($293 million) cash deal that could cost up to €493 million ($542 million) if certain milestones are hit, represents a big step in expanding Philips’ Image-Guided Therapy portfolio. The deal gives Philips access to EPD’s cardiac imaging and navigation system (CE cleared, FDA 510k in progress), which generates 3D images of cardiac anatomy, helping electrophysiologists navigate the heart and identify the location and orientation of catheters during procedures. The deal also gives Philips a stronger presence in the $2.3 billion image-guided cardiac arrhythmia treatment market, adding EPD’s cardiac imaging system to Philips’ portfolio of existing PVC solutions. Philips has demonstrated the medical imaging industry’s greatest acquisition focus during the last 18 months, acquiring ten healthcare companies in 2017 to the tune of €2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) and two companies so far in 2018 (following Nightbalance in May). Given Philips’ recent acquisition track record and van Houten’s statements, it’s a safe assumption that more bolt-on buys like this are coming in 2018.

 

Siemens Expands High-End PET/CT Lineup
Siemens Healthineers announced the FDA clearance of the Biograph Vision, a completely new PET/CT system positioned at the top its portfolio. Leading with new 3.2 mm LSO crystals, a 78-cm bore, and an industry-leading 249-picosecond Time of Flight, Siemens is bullish about the new system calling it “a major leap in performance beyond any PET/CT system previously manufactured.” That’s a big statement, but the Biograph Vision clearly improves Siemens’ high-performance PET/CT positioning and the new system should certainly help drive sales in this segment.

 

Genetesis Gets Funded and Famous
It can be convenient when your investors provide more than money and guidance, although that’s usually enough. Biomagnetic imaging company, Genetesis, made headlines this week after closing a $7.5 million Series A funding round. However, the company’s significant news coverage was largely due to the inclusion of Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments firm among the group of Genetesis investors. In addition to having a famous investor, Genetesis is known for its CardioFlux system, which combines biomagnetic imaging with proprietary software that can be used to diagnose and guide treatment for a range of cardiac disorders. The new funding will be used to pay for the installation of additional CardioFlux systems, begin new clinical trials, and prepare for a commercial launch.

 

Philips Gets Fast and Efficient with Ingenia Elition MR
Philips announced the FDA clearance of its Ingenia Elition 3.0T MRI along with a pair of compatible clinical applications, Compressed SENSE and 3D APT. The Ingenia Elition was first announced at ECR 2018 where it was touted by Philips as “the most exciting innovation in MR.” The Ingenia Elition backs up these claims with its speed, offering up to 50% faster MRI scans without compromising image quality (made possible by Compressed SENSE app and reduced setup time), clearly associating this claim with radiology departments’ common goals of workflow and cost efficiency.

 

Medical Imaging AI Takes France
The trend of nationwide medical imaging AI initiatives continued this week. France’s National Council of Professional Radiology (G4), with support from the French government, announced plans to create a complete medical imaging AI ecosystem. The new AI ecosystem will leverage the country’s 500 million medical imaging files as the basis for future studies and involve all of its major radiology industry groups. France’s big AI move comes weeks after the UK pledged to invest millions to bring AI into the NHS and just a month after Korea launched a similar initiative, suggesting these are more than isolated incidents. Although surely posing bureaucratic challenges, a public-private approach to AI imaging certainly offers advantages in terms of funding and access to medical image archives, and the recent trend suggests that more national (or international) AI initiatives are on the way.

 


The Wire

  • A week after reports emerged of massive IBM Watson Health layoffs, a company statement clarified that the layoffs only affected “a small percentage of the Watson Health workforce” (vs. previous 50% – 70% estimates) and assured that IBM still has an ambitious vision for Watson Health. 50% to 70% did seem high…
  • Konica Minolta expanded its DR system support and monitoring capabilities with the launch of its AeroRemote Insights analytics solution, providing radiology managers with visibility into device utilization, department workflow and efficiency, and AeroDR system health.
  • Clinical Laserthermia Systems (CLS) and Exact Imaging agreed to combine CLS’ focused laser ablation system with ExactVu’s micro-ultrasound systems to create and sell a new FLA micro-ultrasound product to support patients with localized prostate cancer and BPH.
  • A new study estimates that false-positive breast biopsies cost the US healthcare system $2.18 billion annually (plus a major psychological toll on false-positive patients), noting that 49% of all patients required a second diagnostic procedure, over 20% had three procedures, and 10% had four. This makes the following study even more notable…
  • A new study in RSNA’s Radiology reveals that 2D combined with 3D mammography (DM+DBT) finds 90% more breast cancer than 2D mammography alone (70% more with dense breasts), while reducing false positives by 25%, and improving detection of small and medium-size invasive cancers by 94% and 122%, respectively. This certainly represents an opportunity to grow 3D sales without having to replace the 2D installed base, a fact that GE recognized as it made the unusual move to issue a press release highlighting the study.
  • EOS imaging gained FDA 510(k) clearance for its hipEOS 3.0 surgical planning software, combining weight-bearing EOS images and a 2D/3D patient-specific data set to select the size and position of hip implants based on each patient’s data and anatomy.
  • Qure.ai’s qXR AI-based chest x-ray analysis solution, which can detect 15 of the most common chest x-ray abnormalities with over 90% accuracy (including Tuberculosis), received CE certification to sell in Europe.
  • 3D bioprinting startup Aether announced its entry into the medical imaging software space, launching its new Automatic Segmentation and Reconstruction (ASAR) process intended to power its already-available Aether 1 3D bioprinter, allowing users to create 3D printed organs without calibration or editing tools.
  • Analogic’s fiscal Q3 brought a 2% drop in revenue to $120 million and improved GAAP ($7.1M vs. -$59.7M) and non-GAAP ($13.6m vs. $10m) net income, while imaging component sales fell 12% to $69.5 million and ultrasound revenue jumped up 21% to $42.2 million. Its acquisition by Altaris Capital Partners is still on track.
  • Insightec announced that its MR-guided ultrasound system, used to treat essential tremors, gained Medicare coverage in 10 states and is set to add six more states by July, leading the company to suggest that the system may expand to a total of 38 states.

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