“The results of this study are very exciting as they point towards a future where doctors and AI algorithms can work together in real-time, rather than human practitioners being replaced by automated algorithms.”
Stanford University radiology professor, Dr. Matthew Lungren, commenting on evidence from a recent study revealing that a team of radiologists using intelligence algorithms to collaborate as a “hive mind” can diagnose images better than either independent radiologists or AI algorithms.
The Imaging Wire is Brought to You By
- Carestream – Focused on delivering innovation that is life changing – for patients, customers, employees, communities and other stakeholders
- Focused Ultrasound Foundation – Accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound
- Medmo – Helping underinsured Americans save on medical scans by connecting them to imaging providers with unfilled schedule time
- Pocus Systems – A new Point of Care Ultrasound startup, combining a team of POCUS veterans with next-generation technology to disrupt the industry
Keep these companies in mind each time you enjoy The Imaging Wire. Check them out and see how they’re driving our industry forward, and shoot them a note if you’re interested in learning more. They’re all great companies run by solid people.
The Imaging Wire
Philips Goes Helium-Free
Philips took a big step toward addressing MRI’s helium problem this week. The company launched the FDA/CE-cleared Ingenia Ambition X 1.5T MR, featuring the company’s new BlueSeal MRI magnet technology. Heralded as the industry’s “first fully sealed” magnet, BlueSeal seals a small amount of helium into the magnet during the manufacturing process, significantly reducing helium consumption and helium-related requirements (less than 0.5% of a current 1.5T system). Philips rightfully emphasized BlueSeal’s benefits throughout most of the announcement, as it reduces: cooling-related downtime, magnet weight (by 900kg!), system size/footprint, and both installation and helium costs. The Ingenia Ambition X also launches with Philips’ latest MRI innovations including Compressed SENSE (reduces exam times by up to 50%) and VitalEye (detects and extracts patient movement to cut setup time), while adding Philips’ new BlueSeal-specific EasySwitch solution (simplifies process to turn magnet off and on if something gets stuck in the bore).
Given this long list of advantages and the fact that helium is a limited resource, the Ingenia Ambition X gives Philips a useful differentiator and discussion-driver (at least for now). That’s not to say there won’t be challenges, as Philips will still have to prove BlueSeal’s stability and may not be able to justify a significant price premium given that helium costs are generally covered by service contracts. However, progress and challenges are a package deal, and the Ingenia Ambition X marks an impressive milestone for Philips and the MRI modality.
Hive Mind Wins
Stanford University and swarm intelligence developer, Unanimous AI, unveiled a study showing that a small group of doctors using intelligence algorithms to collaborate as a “hive mind,” could diagnose pneumonia from chest X-rays with greater accuracy than individual doctors or machine learning algorithms alone. Here is the evidence – the “hive mind” radiologists achieved a 33% lower error rate diagnosing chest X-rays compared to diagnoses from individual doctors and were 22% more accurate in binary classification than Stanford’s own CheXNet AI system. In addition to improving the accuracy of radiological diagnoses, Swarm AI technology could also create better “ground truth” datasets to train other AI algorithms, potentially leading to future breakthroughs. This is a pretty cool twist to the AI vs. radiologist storyline, adding proof to the theory that AI is valuable in amplifying radiologist accuracy while still maintaining radiologists’ direct participation in the diagnostic process.
Kanteron Systems Makes a Bid for Agfa
Kanteron Systems took to its blog to announce that it offered to buy Agfa Healthcare’s parent company, Agfa-Gevaert, and was in “early stage” discussions with the iconic print/ healthcare imaging company. Kanteron Systems didn’t beat around the bush in its acquisition proposal, reminding Agfa that its revenues have been stagnant for years and suggesting that this acquisition would give Agfa access to Kanteron’s “leading-edge technology.” Kanteron was specifically referring to its pathology and genomics tech, which it suggests would allow Agfa to “take the lead in the new Clinical Information Systems for Precision Medicine market.” That said, this feels more like a competitive acquisition than a synergistic one, giving Kanteron access to Agfa’s enterprise imaging technology and customer base (Agfa’s print business would almost certainly be spun-off, maybe imaging hardware too). The non-binding offer is far from guaranteed, but Kanteron has a point about Agfa’s stagnant revenue, and this situation is worth keeping an eye on.
- University of Colorado-Denver and University of Vermont researchers found that homemade ultrasound coupling gels (specifically glucomannan and guar gum-based gels) are just as effective as commercial gels. The researchers suggested that low-income regions, many of which rely on ultrasound as their primary modality, could adopt homemade gels to alleviate ongoing issues regarding ultrasound gel shortages and high gel costs. Other good news for those interested in homemade ultrasound gels, YouTube is apparently full of recipes and instructional videos on how to make them.
- Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) had a big MRI week, installing the country’s first NICU-dedicated MRI system and beginning operation of the US’ second 7T MRI system. The BWH NICU department added Aspect Imaging’s new EMBRACE NICU MRI system, giving its infant patients an MRI that is closer and customized for their needs. The new 7T scanner (Siemens Magnetom 7T Terra) provides more than double the strength of conventional systems, allowing enhanced visibility into musculoskeletal conditions and neurological diseases for both clinical and research applications.
- Enterprise imaging company, ScImage, announced a deal to support mobile PET imaging provider Cardiac Imaging Inc. (CII), highlighted by ScImage’s PICOM365 Cloud PACS’ ability to support CII’s fleet of mobile PET clinics.
- Royal Philips and connected health managed IOT service company, Integron, announced a collaboration that combines the Philips HealthSuite Digital Platform with Integron’s solution deployment services. The joint offering will allow Integron’s connected health customers (specifically device procurement, management, and deployment services) to access and process data in compliance with HIPAA requirements for a variety of healthcare applications.
- The University of Queensland and the Australian government opened the new ARC Training Centre for Innovation in Biomedical Imaging Technology, a $6 million (USD) center where 20 researchers will work on developing biomedical imaging innovations.
- Japan’s Obayashi Manufacturing announced the launch of its second generation “Super Comfy” ultra-lightweight portable X-ray system, intended for operating rooms, nursing care facilities, home care, and emergency situations. The new system offers basic imaging capabilities and clearly leads with its small size and mobility, including a 30kg total weight (with generator and battery), easy foldability, removable battery, and small 0.8 mm tube focus.
- UNLV signed a master research service agreement with major local practice, Desert Radiology, using its imaging services to support studies being performed by the UNLV Schools of Allied Health Sciences and Medicine.
- Sound Imaging launched its new SAMM MD (Safety and Movement Monitoring with Motion Detection) patient motion and movement detection system, intended to reduce motion artifacts during MR scans. The system integrates with the MRI to identify when enough movement occurs to potentially create a motion artifact and then visually/audibly alerts technologists and patients, giving an option to pause exams.
- Researchers in South Korea developed a deep learning system built on a 7,461-patient image database that can assess liver fibrosis in CT images more accurately than radiologists.
- MILabs completed the installation of its Adaptive U-CTXUHR X-ray CT system at Sydney Imaging Core Research Facility at the University of Sydney, highlighting the preclinical system’s combination of low-dose, fast and high-resolution performance, and ability to be upgraded to molecular CT imaging.
The Resource Wire
– This is sponsored content.
- Carestream’s focus is on delivering innovation that is life changing—for patients, customers, employees, communities and other stakeholders. The company’s international team of experts is committed to serving the radiology and enterprise IT needs of a broad range of healthcare providers.
- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s goal is to improve the lives of millions of people with serious medical disorders by accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound. The early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology could transform the treatment of many medical disorders, serving as an alternative to surgery and radiation.
- Medmo offers a new marketplace that lets underinsured patients name the price they can afford for a scan, connecting them with imaging providers who have unsold excess capacity and are willing to accept their price. Click here for more information.
- POCUS Systems is a Point of Care Ultrasound startup founded by a team of POCUS veterans with a vision to disrupt the industry with next generation technology featuring interventional guidance and Artificial Intelligence (Ai) enabled diagnoses.