“Medical devices have become the weakest link in the security chain.”
Brian Selfridge, a partner at Meditology Services, in a statement supporting the company’s medical device security partnership with Cloudpost Networks. Whether this statement is true or not, it feeds into a hot topic that’s probably good for business.
The Imaging Wire
Facebook and NYU Team to Speed-up MRIs
Facebook and NYU announced the launch of their fastMRI collaborative research project, combining Facebook’s AI technology with NYU’s algorithms and medical image databases to try to make MRI scans 10-times faster. The project will initially focus on changing how MRIs operate, reducing the amount of image data captured during scans (allowing faster times) and then using artificial neural networks to recognize the captured images’ underlying structure and create reconstructed images that are sufficient for diagnosis. If successful, fastMRI would make the modality a better option for children or claustrophobic people, who struggle with long MRI imaging times, while also alleviating scheduling backlogs in rural areas and developing countries where a limited number of MRI systems are available. Not only are academic partnerships arguably Facebook’s best chance to regain relevance among college kids (boom!), the fastMRI project is an interesting way to combine NYU and FB’s strengths to address one of the main challenges with MRI technology.
Healthcare Execs Bet on Amazon as the Most Likely Disruptor
According to a Reaction Data survey (n=97), 59% of healthcare provider executives believe that Amazon’s entrance into the healthcare industry will have a greater impact than any of the other major tech companies trying to get into healthcare. Citing Amazon’s vision, logistical power, cloud leadership, and partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, the survey positioned Amazon with a clear advantage over other tech giants (followed by Apple 14%, Google –8%, and Microsoft 7%, IBM 4%). The fact that Amazon has a perception advantage in any industry is not surprising these days, but it is notable that the majority of healthcare decision makers are buying-in to the idea of future disruption brought by industry outsiders.
Two Cloud AI Encryption Methods are Faster than One
MIT researchers unveiled a new security method for cloud-based machine learning that keeps private data secure without slowing-down performance, potentially opening-up the use of cloud-based neural networks for medical image analysis and other high-security applications. MIT’s new GAZELLE technology combines two encryption methods (homomorphic encryption and garbled circuits), avoiding traditional ML security bottlenecks and achieving 20 to 30 times faster performance. This new technology could help untether medical imaging AI from hospitals’ local infrastructure and unlock the cost and application benefits of shared cloud AI systems.
UCNPs Bring Another Imaging Breakthrough
A team of researchers at Australia’s University of Technology (UTS) announced a super resolution imaging breakthrough that would allow physicians to image tissue at the molecular level, potentially detecting disease biomarkers. The new technique uses photonic optical imaging and upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs), allowing light to penetrate beyond 50nm, which was previously viewed as optical imaging’s maximum depth. The UTS researchers also believe that this type of nanoscopy will be easier to commercialize than other super resolution imaging technologies due to its limited service requirements. The UTS team’s announcement comes nearly in unison with a very similar UCNP-based discovery announcement from Berkeley Labs last week, and although there is no evidence that these teams collaborated, the two announcements are at the very least evidence that UCNPs are paving the way for imaging breakthroughs across the globe.
Q2 Financials Wrap-up with Reports from Pro Medicus, ContextVision, and MeVis Medical
The fifth and likely final wave of April-June medical imaging financial reports hit the press, highlighted by a positive performance from Pro Medicus and mixed quarters from ContextVision and MeVis Medical Solutions.
- Pro Medicus – Pro Medicus wrapped up an impressive 2017/2018 fiscal year, as growth in North America (+18.4%) and Europe (33.2%) helped drive a 13.9% increase in revenue to $36 AUD million and a 36.7% jump in after-tax profit to $12.74 AUD million ($26.5m and $9.3m USD). The company’s N. America growth was specifically attributed to its 7-year deal with Yale New Haven Health and its Visage Imaging subsidiary’s recent 7-year deal with Mercy Health.
- ContextVision – Swedish image analysis software company, ContextVision, reported a 3.5% drop in revenue to 21.9 million Swedish krona ($2.4m), while posting a 1.2 million Swedish krona loss (-$133k) that it attributed to higher R&D costs and pre-marketing activities in anticipation of an upcoming launch.
- MeVis Medical – German medical imaging solutions company, MeVis Medical Solutions, revealed a 12% drop in its fiscal Q3 revenue to €3.9 million due to falling mammography sales, while EBIT fell 23% to €1.304 million.
- The American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) weighed in on the third-party service debate, arguing against a number of points made by a MITA editorial from May and supporting the FDA’s decision not to regulate third parties. Most of ACCE’s arguments against the MITA statement would probably be viewed by manufacturers as “these things aren’t our responsibilities, because other groups are responsible” and that can all be found here. What’s more notable is what seems to be an escalating battle between OEMs and servicers, as this marks the third week in a row that a representative from the service side of the industry has made the case for servicer rights. The good news for them is, they have the FDA on their side on this issue (at least for now).
- An HHS Inspector General report found that Medicare overpaid hospitals by as much as $21.5 million for outpatient intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) planning services between 2013 and 2015 (and up to $5.4m in 2016/2017). The report attributed the excess payments to hospital billing misinterpretations, as some hospitals billed for imaging-based planning services separately from their IMRT billings, even though IMRT payments are intended to cover both planning and therapy.
- Meditology Services and CloudPost Networks partnered to provide what they claim is “the industry’s first comprehensive end-to-end medical device security program solution,” combining CloudPost’s medical device inventory and protection software with Meditology’s managed service operations.
- The Turkish government postponed its massive imaging and patient monitoring tender to October 31, marking the tender’s third postponement, and causing some to believe that it will be canceled. The tender has been valued in the press at either “hundreds of millions of dollars” or “$10 billion dollars” (we think the former is more accurate) and would require that all devices are manufactured locally.
- A recent report from the CDC revealed that imaging reports are the second most common type of patient health information received by physicians electronically (60%), falling just behind lab results (78%) and ahead of medication lists (54%).
- A team of researchers developed a machine learning algorithm, called cPSTA (cardiac space phase tomography analysis), that uses thoracic phase signals to identify obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) with the same accuracy as current tests. If adopted, this method would come at the expense of SPECT procedures, which the researchers emphasized have much higher costs and exposes patients to radiation.
- Aetna updated its insurance policy to cover PET exams performed using the PET radiotracer gallium-68 DOTATATE, which is offered by Netspot as its Advanced Accelerator Applications, and is used for the diagnosis and staging of neuroendocrine tumors.
- Colorado-based MRI and CT part repair company, Medical Systems Technologies, expanded its services to Europe with the launch of a depot repair facility in England focused on sourcing MRI parts, sub-assemblies, and circuit boards for the European market.
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.
- Purview survey assesses medical image management effectiveness.
- 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