“Human radiologists are already much worse than computer radiologists. If I had to pick a human or an AI to read my scan, I’d pick the AI.”
Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, supporting his theory on AI’s imminent job-disrupting impact at the New York Times’ recent New Work Summit and earning himself a few radiologist critics in the process.
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- 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.
The Imaging Wire
A Tennessee radiologist launched a class action lawsuit against the American Board of Radiology (ABR), claiming that the organization is using its monopoly over the initial radiology certification process to create an ongoing monopoly over the subsequent certification maintenance process. The suit essentially calls the ABR’s certification and maintenance processes a long-term shakedown that takes radiologists’ time and money, but does little to advance their knowledge or prove their capabilities. If true, this has been an effective financial strategy for the ABR, which saw its annual certification maintenance revenue increase from $6.07 million in 2005 to $16.29 million in 2017, driving an over 3x increase in net assets to $38.95 million during the same period and allowing some hefty >$800k salaries for ABR’s executives. The suit seeks to “recover damages and for injunctive and other equitable relief” for all radiologists who were required to purchase certification maintenance. The rads on the auntminnie.com message boards are loving this one.
The DBT Advantage
New research published in JAMA Oncology added to the ongoing wave of pro-DBT evidence, finding that DBT is superior to digital mammography (DM) at detecting breast cancer and results in a lower false-positive recall rate, addressing two key components of breast cancer screening’s risk-benefit equation. The study used data from 50,971 DBT exams and 129,369 DM exams, finding DBT’s specificity and cancer detection advantages mentioned above to be true across all age and breast density groups. The researchers also found that the invasive cancers detected by DBT were more likely to be smaller (<1cm) and node negative compared with cancers detected by digital mammography, allowing for early treatment and better long-term results. This was particularly true for women aged 40 to 49 years, suggesting that DBT may be especially beneficial for younger women.
Philips’ Incisive CT
Philips expanded its high-end CT portfolio and introduced an interesting new economic incentive with the launch of its new Incisive CT at ECR 2019. The 72cm bore CT ships in a variety of configurations based on detector width (2cm or 4cm) and slices (32, 64, or 128), and includes Philips’ DoseWise Portal monitoring solution (w/ iDose4 image quality algorithm, & metal artifact reduction) and new OnPlan patient-side gantry controls for improved technologist workflow. However, the Incisive CT is arguably most notable for its new ‘Tube for Life’ guarantee, as Philips has so much faith in the longevity of the system’s new vMRC tube that the company will replace it at no additional cost throughout a unit’s entire life (10yrs = “life”), providing customers an estimated lifetime savings of $400,000. The vMRC’s advantages are reminiscent of Philips’ still-new Blue Seal MRI magnet tech, which eliminates the need to add helium, and the two innovations suggest that Philips is placing a strategic focus on parts/supply-based innovations. The Incisive CT will launch in Europe and Asia in the first half of 2019, and although there’s no timelines for a US launch, the system is already FDA cleared.
- A team from New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center found that analytics-driven worklists may reduce group musculoskeletal MRI interpretation times by distributing studies based on radiologists’ performance with different body parts. The study monitored three MSK fellowship-trained radiologists’ MRI interpretation times for seven days, assigning studies to the radiologists according to their individual interpretation times for each body part, finding that total daily interpretation times fell by 29.5-minutes per day, while individual reading times per study type remained stable.
- iCAD announced plans to partner with two researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet to develop an AI-based solution that identifies a women’s individual risk of developing breast cancer. The partnership expands on previous research where the Karolinska team developed a breast cancer risk prediction model using information from iCAD’s AI cancer detection and density assessment solutions. In the next phase of their partnership, iCAD and the two Karolinska Institutet researchers will develop and commercialize a solution based on an exclusive license agreement for the breast cancer risk assessment model.
- Aidoc announced the European launch of its CE-marked AI solution for the detection and triage of pulmonary embolisms (PE) in CT angiograms. The solution flags obstructions in blood flow to the lungs and prioritizes radiologists’ work queues so they can detect and treat PE faster. The new solution joins Aidoc’s algorithms for intracranial hemorrhage and c-spine fractures, which are both CE approved and in use in over 50 medical centers.
- Johns Hopkins researchers found that Raman spectroscopy may be effective in determining cancerous tumors’ response to radiation, helping to reduce radiation therapy overtreatment and improve RT effectiveness rates. The researchers used the noninvasive technique to capture molecular-level tumor information that can be used in an algorithm to predict RT response with 97% effectiveness.
- Canon Medical Systems’ ECR booth and associated announcement highlighted “the industry’s first 33 MHz ultra-high frequency linear transducer.” The new transducer is compatible with the company’s Aplio i800 ultrasound, and uses iDMS and SMI technologies that make it ideal for “superficial subcutaneous imaging, exams of small joints, superficial nerves, as well as for superficial vascular evaluations.” It appears that the transducer was also announced at RSNA.
- Zebra Medical Vision announced the CE marking of its new AI-based CXR pneumothorax and CT brain bleed “acute findings” solutions, which connect to a hospital’s PACS system and alert the appropriate worklist when the conditions are detected, reducing detection times by 80%. The new Zebra Medical Vision acute findings solutions are now available in Europe and are still awaiting FDA clearance in the US.
- Google and its Alphabet sibling, Verily, developed an AI algorithm that screens eye imaging exams to detect diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, performing as well as eye doctors and retinal specialists in tests. The Verily algorithm is being piloted in India, a country with a significant eye doctor shortage, and has received CE mark approval for use in Europe.
- GE Healthcare’s ECR booth brought an early preview of two new Edison AI-based algorithms intended to address issues with no-show appointments and the detection of pneumothorax. The “the no-show algorithm” is intended to predict whether a patient will make it to their scheduled imaging appointment based on a range of criteria (age, gender, scheduling time, weather, and prior no-shows), prompting healthcare providers to reach out to these patients and helping them maximize exam schedules. GE also displayed an algorithm that can analyze large numbers of chest X-rays to detect pneumothorax and then prioritize radiologist worklists accordingly, which is believed to be a solution that was also highlighted at RSNA.
- Kheiron Medical Technologies announced the launch of its Mia (mammography intelligent assessment) AI-based breast cancer screening software, which is designed to analyze standard digital mammograms, and already has European CE mark approval to serve as an independent second reader in double reading programs. Kheiron is running additional clinical trials to evaluate Mia in the UK, Europe, and US and is targeting a European rollout throughout 2019 and 2020.
- Mini C-arm specialist, Orthoscan, announced its new TAU 2020 mini C-arm at ECR. The new system is highlighted by a number of “industry largest” features for the mini C-arm segment (largest: detector, field-of-view, high-resolution diagnostic touchscreen) and also highlights the inclusion of pulsed fluoroscopy, optimized dose filtration, a 160-degree orbital rotation, and a pediatric indication (the only mini C-arm with this).
- iSchemaView continued to expand its partnerships, announcing the launch of its new Rapid Angio angiography suite neuroimaging solution, which integrates iSchemaView’s Rapid CT angiography (CTA) software with Siemens Healthineers’ syngo DynaCT Multiphase 3D imaging solution. The combined solution allows for the direct evaluation of acute stroke patients in the angiography procedure room and follows recent iSchemaView Rapid partnerships with Pulsara and Neurologica.
- Canon Medical Systems took a final step towards formalizing its Argentinian operations with Canon Medical Systems Argentina’s completed acquisition of Buenos Aires-based medical imaging system dealer, Griensu. The acquisition is unlikely to be a surprise within the Argentinian imaging industry, as Canon Medical Systems Argentina’s late-2018 formation came as a result of a joint venture between Canon and Griensu, and Canon relied on Griensu as its local distributor for years before that.
The Resource Wire
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- It’s no secret that rural hospitals have a unique set of challenges, as they must balance a wide range of healthcare needs with limited budgets. This Carestream blog details how the DRX-Transportable System/Lite system allows healthcare facilities to upgrade to DR “easily and affordably,” while keeping their existing analogue equipment.
- In this Focused Ultrasound Foundation video, four patients discuss their experiences with focused ultrasound treatments for essential tremor, bone tumors, uterine fibroids, and Parkinson’s disease – with details on how focused ultrasound treats these issues.
- POCUS Systems is approved as a Veteran Owned Business with the US Government Office of Veterans Business Development, paving the way for partnerships with the federal healthcare delivery systems.
- How much does an MRI scan cost? According to Medmo, that depends. Scans made with the exact same device on the exact same body part could cost $225 at one facility and $2,500 at another. Medmo also provides some advice to make sure patients don’t pay too much for their scans, including using the Medmo Marketplace where the average MRI costs between $225 and $700.