“What class ‘B’ or ‘C’ mall doesn’t have a wing that’s either dark or a little sleepy?”
Todd Caruso of major commercial real estate firm, CBRE, on how health care clinics are increasingly finding a home in the dark and sleepy parts of America’s malls.
Imaging Wire Sponsors
- 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
- Nuance – AI and cloud-powered technology solutions to help radiologists stay focused, move quickly, and work smarter
- Pocus Systems – A new Point of Care Ultrasound startup, combining a team of POCUS veterans with next-generation genuine AI technology to disrupt the industry
- Qure.ai – Making healthcare more accessible by applying deep learning to radiology imaging
The Imaging Wire
Medtronic and Viz.ai Partner
Medtronic announced a partnership to distribute Viz.ai’s stroke care AI solution, representing a new and interesting type of AI alliance. Here’s why:
- In Brief – Medtronic will make Viz.ai’s FDA-cleared stroke solution available through its massive network. The Viz.ai solution connects with CTs to identify LVO strokes and notifies specialists for quick care, complementing Medtronic’s Solitaire Platinum revascularization device, a stent used to treat patients experiencing acute ischemic stroke due to an LVO.
- Potential – Although many partnerships hit their peak shortly after the press release, this one has potential. Medtronic is no stranger to connecting imaging tech with its surgical products, including its recent image-guided deal with Philips, and the medtech giant should be well suited to integrate Viz.ai with its stroke care system.
- Impact – AI’s go-to-market is still largely undefined, and although some other approaches are promising (e.g. marketplaces, hardware OEM partnerships), connecting imaging AI solutions to post-imaging care is a model that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Southeast U.S. dealer, CMS Imaging, announced the first clinical installation of Alpha Imaging’s Intelli-C tilt-C fluoroscopic imaging system. The Intelli-C’s installation at South Carolina imaging center, ImageCare, may not seem like a big deal to some but it’s an interesting milestone for a number of reasons:
- Alpha’s Bold Move – The Intelli-C is made by NRT X-Ray and branded/distributed by Alpha Imaging, representing a unique and ambitious move for a distributor.
- Channel Demand – Since Shimadzu pulled the C-Vision from the U.S. and GE stopped selling the Precision MPi (also from NRT), the U.S. lateral fluoro market has been limited to a pair of systems from Canon and Siemens Healthineers. In other words, if dealers didn’t work with Canon or Siemens, they couldn’t provide their clients with lateral fluoro systems … until now.
- CMS Isn’t Alone – It’s no surprise that there are already a number of dealers who’ve taken on the Intelli-C (Core Medical, Brown’s, CMS, plus Alpha Imaging’s own branches) and five other Intelli-C installations are reportedly already lined-up over the coming months.
Breast OCT Breakthrough
A team of Columbia University-led researchers appear to have taken a major step towards optical coherence tomography (OCT) becoming a real-time imaging modality for breast cancer identification and perhaps other applications. Here’s how:
- The Study – The team developed a CNN method (n= 46 tissue specimens, 29 cancerous) that can identify the four types of breast tissue in OCT scans and classify cancerous and non-cancerous tissue with 94% accuracy, 96% sensitivity, and 92% specificity, surpassing a 7-physician panel’s 88% accuracy rate.
- The Breakthrough – This automated method may help OCT overcome its historic issues with interobserver variability and speed that kept the modality from being seen as a practical solution for intraoperative settings.
- Implications – The new method might help make OCT a real-time intraoperative margin assessment tool in breast-conserving surgery and potentially other applications, in addition to its current applications for ophthalmology.
Volpara Solutions and ScreenPoint Partner Up
Volpara Solutions and ScreenPoint Medical announced a partnership that will allow Volpara to sell ScreenPoint’s Transpara products to breast imaging clinics in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. This partnership makes sense for a number of reasons:
- ScreenPoint has actively relied on regional partnerships to drive geographic expansion (Siemens across Europe, Incepto in France) and ScreenPoint was in need of a U.S. partner after Transpara’s FDA clearance in late 2018. As a New Zealand-based company, Volpara is also well-suited to distribute ScreenPoint in the Oceania region.
- The companies’ solutions fit well together, given that Transpara helps detect breast cancer in mammograms, while Volpara’s solutions measure density and other info and improve technologist decision making.
- This deal aligns with the clear trend in breast imaging towards comprehensive solution suites.
- Volpara and ScreenPoint share co-founders, Mike Brady and Nico Karssemeijer.
- New research from Kaiser Permanente (n= 2.2m women) finds that CT use rates among pregnant women increased by 3.7-fold in the US (0.8% of pregnant women) and 2.0-fold in Ontario, Canada (0.4% of pregnant women) between 1996 and 2016, while use rates of other imaging modalities with ionizing radiation decreased among pregnant women (overall: 5.3% in U.S., 3.6% in Ontario).
- The bipartisan Medicare Diagnostic Radiopharmaceutical Payment Equity Act of 2019 was introduced to the U.S. house, seeking to ensuring “adequate Medicare reimbursement” to hospitals for procedures that use radiopharmaceuticals. It’s no surprise that the budget-neutral bill (it doesn’t cost additional taxpayer money) quickly gained support from industry groups like SNMMI and MITA.
- A Wired opinion post from AI leader, Oren Etzioni, argued that because of AI’s black box issue AI systems that are responsible for important analysis should undergo automated external audits to catch signs of bias or brittleness. Etzioni argued that “explainable AI” is easier said than done (IP needs protecting, AI findings are difficult to explain), making “auditable AI” performed by a neutral third-party the better option.
- A San Luis Obispo-based radiologist gave up his medical license after years of largely drug-related issues, including writing friends and family prescriptions in 2010, human trafficking charges in 2014, and eventually giving a drug-caused misdiagnosis in 2016. The radiologist briefly had his license reinstated in early 2019 after a 2-year suspension, but that didn’t last long, as he quickly refused a monthly drug test and was ordered to cease medical practice in May 2019.
- Samsung NeuroLogica launched its new iQuia digital radiography platform, highlighted by the company’s upgraded iQuia Detector (14”x17” and 17”x17”) that will be used with Samsung’s new premium ceiling DR iQuia GC85A system and mobile iQuia GM85 system (feature higher weight capacities, better dust and water resistance, and other improvements). The launch also brings Samsung’s new SMART Center by iQuia, a quality and asset monitoring solution that aggregates multiple Samsung DR devices’ data to support staff training, productivity analysis, and detector shock analysis.
- The West Virginia University Heart and Vascular Institute became the first hospital in the U.S. to install Canon Medical Systems’ Alphenix 4D CT. The new system combines Canon’s Alphenix Sky + C-arm and Hybrid Catheterization Tilt/Cradle Table with its Aquilion ONE / GENESIS Edition CT system, allowing clinicians to plan, perform, and verify procedures in a single setting.
- Researchers from Robarts Research Institute developed an augmented reality (AR) ultrasound guidance system that improves ultrasound epidural injection guidance. The system visualizes B-mode ultrasound and the epidural needle in a 3D AR environment for improved navigation, while using A-mode ultrasound from a transducer positioned at the needle’s tip to identify the epidural space for improved positioning, achieving a 100% procedure success rate (vs. 57% for US-only guidance).
- Samsung NeuroLogica signed a Preferred Vendor agreement with Strategic Radiology, giving Strategic Radiology’s 28 member practices lower rates on select Samsung digital radiography and ultrasound systems, software, and service items.
- A team of Chilean researchers confirmed that 3D printed models accurately reflect in vivo bones accurately enough to support surgical planning. The team created a 3D printed lumbar spine using 10 CT scans of porcine lumbar spinal vertebra that were then dissected and scanned again, before performing CT image processing to obtain a mesh and perform 3D printing. The study found no statistical difference among the four different levels of vertebrae measurements with an average error rate of less than 1mm (0.6mm vs. CT images, 0.73 vs. the actual vertebra).
- Fujifilm launched the ASPIRE Cristalle Mammography system’s new Tomosynthesis Biopsy option, which debuted at RSNA, and uses tomosynthesis guidance to calculate the 3D coordinates of a suspicious breast lesion. The new option allows radiologists to perform biopsies of suspicious areas and target lesions previously undetectable on FFDM images.
- New Jersey-based medical imaging and radiology practice, Atlantic Medical Imaging, announced its acquisition of Center for Diagnostic Imaging, giving it two new medical imaging centers (Vineland and Upper Deerfield, NJ) and increasing its practice to 50 radiologists and 14 outpatient locations.
The Resource Wire
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- A study in JACR revealed that the rise of high-deductible health plans has led to greater patient concerns over imaging costs than ever before, while patient cost comparisons often leads to “confusion, misinformation, and opaqueness.” These are the exact patients who can be helped by the Medmo platform, which connects high-deductible patients with radiology centers, ensuring the best value for patients and a profitable revenue stream for imaging centers.
- This Qure.ai blog details the challenges it overcame with its qER Head CT algorithm, including developing the algorithm to support CT’s 3D images and high resolution as well as the validation hurdles it faced due to the low prevalence of abnormalities, the need to create a dataset enriched with positives, and steps required to support radiologist reading.
- In this blog post, Nuance Healthcare’s Diagnostic Division GM and VP, Karen Holzberger, shared some real-world examples of how PowerShare is helping providers #DitchTheDisk and improve patient experiences.
- The POCUS Systems founding team has over 80 years of combined experience in the ultrasound industry.
- In this Carestream video, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Bryan Den Hartog presents clinical images illustrating traditional CT vs. extremity CT imaging and discusses how the image resolution in the OnSight 3D Extremity System helps in his practice.
- Focus Ultrasound-funded device maker, Carthera, received FDA approval to begin Phase 1/2a clinical trial on SonoCloud, its low-intensity pulsed ultrasound device for recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) patients treated with carboplatin.