Samsung CrystalLive | More IBM Leaks | Caltech’s Mammo Alternative

“Our goal is to build a dream machine for breast screening, diagnosis, monitoring, and prognosis without any harm to the patient. . . We want it to be fast, painless, safe, and inexpensive.”

– Caltech professor (and impressive marketer), Lihong Wang, on his group’s new hybrid acoustic-optical imaging technique that could prove to be an alternative to mammography. If this “dream machine” really is “fast, painless, safe, and inexpensive” it certainly has potential, as long as it’s effective too.

 


The Imaging Wire

Samsung Intros CrystalLive Ultrasound Engine
Samsung announced the development of its new CrystalLive ultrasound image processing engine, claiming that it produces more accurate 3D images of organs and fetuses. The new engine will be integrated into an updated version of Samsung’s already-available WS80A ultrasound, launching in Korea this week and later expanding to the US and Europe. Samsung suggested that CrystalLive’s greater accuracy and improved diagnosis-efficiency will allow the company to grow ultrasound sales into more demanding academic medical centers.

 

New Details on IBM Watson Health Pivot (But Still Not Much Clarity)
Less than a month after layoffs swept through various Watson Health teams, reports recently emerged suggesting that a strategic shift is underway within the high-profile IBM division. Watson Health is reportedly downsizing its hospital business, which offers pay-for-performance contract management tools and has been a key part of the Watson Health portfolio, but evidently experienced soft demand due in part to the effects of the ACA. Watson Health will reportedly focus more on developing tools to help improve patient care and shift its focus towards “more technology-intensive offerings, simplified processes and automation to drive speed.”

The recent Watson Health reorganization has been hard to define, largely because most reports are based on leaks from individual employees who may not have full context (great example: the 50% – 70% layoff estimate) and compounded by IBM’s decision to limit transparency about this shift. In the absence of information, people (and the press) often assume the worst. That said, the recent changes could be called business decisions rather than a strategic overhaul, noting that layoffs are common following a major acquisition spree and companies generally shift resources when demand for a specific product/service subsides. IBM certainly faces its challenges in the healthcare AI space, but we believe Watson Health will remain focused on hospitals and healthcare, despite the headlines.

 

Caltech Addresses Mammography Pain Points
Caltech researchers developed a new hybrid acoustic-optical imaging technique, called photoacoustic CT (PACT), that could serve as an alternative to mammography without the radiation and discomfort. The new technique is reportedly quite fast, performs better with dense breasts, and has the potential to be inexpensive, which combined with PACT’s pain- and radiation-free advantages, form a value proposition that should intrigue the breast health community.

 

Hologic Launches Viera Breast Ultrasound
Hologic launched its Viera portable breast ultrasound in the US and Europe. The wireless handheld system is viewed as a key 2018 product for Hologic, leading with a value proposition that will emphasize image quality, affordability, and mobile and PACS integration. The new Viera system also represents a major step in Hologic’s 7-month-old development and distribution alliance with Clarius, as the new model is based on the Clarius Ultrasound scanner.

 

Big Step in MRI-Guidance
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong developed the first intraoperative MRI-guided robot for bilateral stereotactic neurosurgery, allowing for less-invasive and more precise treatment of conditions like Parkinson’s diseases. This breakthrough is made possible by the robot’s liquid-power (no electromagnetic motor to interfere with MRI signal) and small size (fits into a standard MRI head coil), which also allow the new technique to be applied to other MRI-guided procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, and prostate and breast biopsy.

 


The Wire

  • For the first time since 1907, GE is not listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, being replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance after GE’s stock prices declined by 55% in the last year. The Imaging Wire isn’t particularly investment-focused, but this move’s symbolic wallop adds a tangible feel to GE’s recent struggles and underscores the high stakes of its current restructuring effort.
  • Philips partnered with Cambridge, UK-based Royal Papworth Hospital to explore new innovations in areas such as lung cancer screening and heart attack diagnosis and treatment.
  • Bruker updated its preclinical imaging software, ParaVision 360, extending the software beyond only supporting MRI systems to also include nuclear molecular imaging for integrated PET/MR workflows.
  • Hitachi Healthcare Systems announced the Japan launch of its new cloud-based Open-Karte Cloud EMR system, which features a built-in image viewer (vs. a separate PACS system), and is specifically intended for small clinics.
  • MIT researchers introduced a machine learning algorithm, called VoxelMorph, that could reduce the medical image registration process to 1-2 minutes with a normal PC or under a second with a high-powered GPU-based systems (vs. several hours) by “learning” how images align throughout the registration process.
  • Elekta announced the European CE mark approval of its Unity MR Linac system, which allows clinicians to deliver radiation doses while visualizing the tumor and surrounding tissue through MR imaging (using Philips MRIs).
  • Ultrasound testing and repair company, Acertara Acoustic Laboratories, received a US patent for a “device used for testing diagnostic ultrasound probes,” suggesting that the innovation will allow enhanced testing of current ultrasound probe technology.

 

 


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