“I saw a desperate need for patients who were prescribed essential medical imaging tests, but simply could not afford them.”
Medmo co-founder and CEO, Dr. Christopher Kelly, on his inspiration to create Medmo’s “pay what you can afford” medical imaging platform.=
The Imaging Wire
NYOP Hits MI
New York startup, Medmo, launched a “pay what you can afford” medical imaging platform that connects under-insured and uninsured US patients with affordable medical imaging services in their area. Medmo’s structure is pretty straightforward: patients enter the imaging service they require (including MRI, CT, PET, and ultrasound) and the price they can afford into the Medmo platform and are connected to a nearby imaging center that is willing to accept that price. This was bound to happen eventually. Patients have historically had low awareness of what medical imaging should cost and and limited access to services, while two of the internet’s specialties are allowing cost transparency and creating open markets for services.
China Tariffs to Bring $400m in New Medical Device Costs
Research from the center-right policy institute, American Action Forum (AAF), estimates that Trump’s 25% Tariffs on Chinese imports will result in $400 million in additional medical equipment costs, absorbed by manufacturers, providers, and patients. AAF’s estimates reveal that medical imaging equipment will account for at least $128 million of these costs, led by X-ray parts (+$44.6m), CT scanners (+$33.7 million), ultrasounds (+$21.5m), MRIs (+$11.2m), X-ray systems (+$10m), and X-ray tubes (+2m). AAF’s analysis is consistent with a recent report from MITA, which also identified X-ray parts and CT scanners as the most-impacted imaging items, warning that the tariffs would cost manufacturers $138 million per year. Although surely painful, these $128-$138 million cost figures seem like less of a threat to the industry than previously anticipated, especially considering that NEMA estimated in May that the tariffs would bring $2.5 billion in additional costs to electrical and medical imaging manufacturers.
Medicare Radiology Reimbursements Stable in 2019
CMS’ Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) spared radiology from major Medicare cuts in 2019, keeping reimbursements for radiology and interventional radiology unchanged, while slightly reducing nuclear medicine (-1%) and radiation oncology (-2%). CMS also proposed 60 new/revised radiology codes, increasing some values and decreasing others. The decision eases concerns that arose after the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that congress reduce Medicare reimbursements for radiology by 3.8%.
Kiwi Father/Son Duo Achieve 3D Color X-ray Milestone
A pair of father and son researchers in New Zealand demonstrated the MARS spectral 3D color X-ray scanner on a human for the first time, marking a key milestone for the potentially disruptive technology. Based on technology originally created for CERN and previously available for pre-clinical applications on animals, the new system shows 3D color images of different parts of the body (fat, water, calcium, and disease markers) and the body’s chemical components in greater detail than current imaging methods. The MARS X-ray will next enter clinical trials, focused on orthopedic and rheumatology patients, allowing the MARS team to compare their images to current imaging technology.
Signify’s Two Sides on the GE Split
Signify Research came out with its analysis on the GE Healthcare spin-off. The firm pointed out many of the same short-term challenges that have been identified in other editorials (e.g. strategic distractions, loss of shared R&D/supply chain/financing operations, increased competitor focus), all of which will require expert execution by the GE Healthcare management team to overcome. However, these warnings were balanced with a reminder that GE Healthcare could still achieve long-term success given its large presence and portfolio breadth, particularly if it further embraces interoperability and takes advantage of future growth opportunities in AI, life sciences, and precision medicine. This seems about right. If GE Healthcare can manage this split without losing focus on its strategic opportunities, the company should be well-positioned into the future. Now GE Healthcare just has to do it.
- Fujifilm Medical Systems expanded its partnership with Vizient, making its pediatric digital X-ray solutions (including: Fujifilm’s FDR AQRO portable X-ray, FDR D-EVO II Csl digital X-ray, FDR D-EVO GL single-exposure long-length digital X-ray, and FDR Go PLUS mobile digital X-ray) available to members of the group purchasing association.
- Zebra Medical Vision announced the FDA 510(k) clearance of its Coronary Calcium Algorithm, which automatically calculates coronary calcium scores from ECG-gated CT scans, used by physicians to assess the risk of cardiovascular events. Despite notable US press attention and funding, the Coronary Calcium Algorithm is Zebra’s first algorithm to receive US FDA clearance, following seven CE clearances in Europe.
- Researchers in South Korea developed an integrated computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system capable of accurately detecting, segmenting, and classifying breast tumors in mammograms, reportedly outperforming current deep learning techniques. The CAD system used a regional deep learning technique called “You-Only-Look-Once” (YOLO) to detect the mass (99% accurate), a full-resolution convolutional network (FrCN) to segment the mass (93% accurate), and a deep convolutional neural network (CNN) to recognize and classify the mass as either benign or malignant (96% accurate).
- Philips signed two of Europe’s largest medical technology agreements, winning deals with Clinics of Cologne (includes 15 years, €90 million, medical imaging technology, service, and workflows) and Munich Municipal Hospital (includes 8 years, €50 million, over 200 imaging systems, service and informatics, and healthcare consultancy services).
- Private equity firm Veritas Capital completed its $1.05 billion acquisition of three parts of GE Healthcare’s value-based healthcare division (revenue cycle, ambulatory care, workforce management), roughly three months after it was first announced.
- Research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that contrast-enhanced ultrasound may be an effective alternative to MRI in identifying cervical cancer, particularly for women with small tumors (<1 cm) that are often missed by MRI.
- ViewRay’s MRIdian MRI-guided radiation therapy system continued its expansion, winning a tender with France’s 19-center cancer treatment network UNICANCER, to support the Centre Georges-François Leclerc (CGFL) in Dijon.
- Visura Technologies received FDA 510(k) clearance for its TEE Camera Assist Device System, a single-use disposable camera that attaches to a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) ultrasound probe to view the upper airway and esophagus during probe placement for safe intubation (this is currently done blindly).
- EchoNous announced the FDA clearance of the EchoNous Vein, an ultrasound-based tool designed to support nurses during peripheral IV (PIV) catheter placements for both children and adults, visualizing veins that are 1cm to 5cm deep.
- The University of Iowa Health Care became the first healthcare organization to use IDx’s IDx-DR diabetic retinopathy diagnostic system. The IDx-DR is the first autonomous diagnostic AI system cleared by the FDA and derives much of its value from its autonomous functionality, as it allows healthcare providers without eye care expertise to test for diabetic retinopathy.
The Resource Wire
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- Agfa Enterprise Imaging integrates clinical videos and images into a single application
- Analogic’s BK Ultrasound bkSpecto urology ultrasound system combines image quality, speed, usability, and small footprint
- Canon Aquilion Precision, the world’s first Ultra-High Resolution CT system
- Caresteam touts benefits of weight bearing CT imaging
- Fujifilm’s FDR AQRO mobile x-ray combines high sensitivity with small size and low-dos
- GE’s Every woman. Every body. Every town. roadshow brings the company’s breast health technologies and message to centers across the country.
- Hitachi white paper on the business benefits of high-field MRI.
- Hologic’s 3Dimension Mammography System leads with 3D imaging and patient comfort.
- IBM Watson Imaging Clinical Review cognitive data review tool for more accurate patient records.
- Konica Minolta publishes latest Kontours issue.
- Philips’ new HealthSuite Insights AI platform curates and analyzes healthcare data and offers tools to build and operate AI-based solutions.
- Samsung’s RS85A premium ultrasound combines image quality with advanced ergonomics
- Shimaduz MobileDaRt Evolution MX8 premium mobile x-ray
- Siemens’ new Somatom Go CTs add cardiac and image-guided capabilities