Intelerad Acquires Ambra | The State of AI

“Economy of words in a radiology report does not mean economy of effort in assessing scan.”

A Tweet from Penn Medicine’s Saurabh Jha, MD, with a reminder that more words in a radiology report doesn’t mean more effort went into it or more clinical value will come out of it. Some might say the same goes for radiology news reporting…

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The Imaging Wire

Intelerad Acquires Ambra

Intelerad just got a whole lot bigger, acquiring Ambra Health to create one of the industry’s most comprehensive image management companies.

Acquisition Details – The acquisition values the combined companies at $1.7b, expands their reach to nearly 2k global customers (including all of the US’ top 10 hospitals), and brings their headcount to roughly 1k team members. Ambra CEO, Morris Panner, will become Intelerad’s president and will lead the company alongside CEO, Mike Lipps.

Intelerad + Ambra Portfolio – The acquisition combines Intelerad’s PACS portfolio with Ambra’s cloud VNA, image exchange, custom integration services, and research and pathology capabilities.

Competitive Impact – At least in terms of portfolio breadth, this acquisition moves Intelerad into enterprise imaging’s top tier (radiology, cardiology, archive, worklist, sharing), helping it expand beyond its radiology practice legacy and deeper into hospitals. However, the star of this acquisition may prove to be combining Ambra’s cloud VNA with Intelerad’s cloud PACS, which as we’ve seen from Visage and Change’s recent cloud takeovers, can be a very effective combination.

Intelerad Growth – Intelerad has taken full advantage of its PE-backing, making a series of acquisitions since mid-2020 that allowed expansions into new specialties (cardiac & OB/GYN), regions (UK), and technologies (cloud). Ambra is clearly its biggest investment and most significant expansion yet.

The Takeaway – Intelerad just became far more comprehensive, better connected, and likely more competitive. Although Ambra’s immediate impact might not be externally visible (integrating teams, aligning solutions, etc.), it should create short-term opportunities (cross-selling etc.) and have a significant long-term impact if the merged companies are able to create a leading cloud imaging platform.

How Desert Radiology Grows Strategically

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Salem Regional’s Case for Bayer’s MEDRAD Stellant FLEX

Learn how Salem Regional Medical Center improved its radiology workflows and cut service and syringe expenses after adopting Bayer’s MEDRAD Stellant FLEX system.

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The Wire

  • The State of AI: Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth just published their extremely comprehensive 2021 State of AI Report, detailing the latest in AI research, talent, commercialization, and politics, plus some future predictions. Imaging AI played a slightly smaller role in this year’s report than in 2020 (see slides: 37, 54, 55, 105), although the whole report is relevant if you’re in the AI space.
  • POCUS Utility: Point-of-care ultrasound might allow clinicians to perform “visually satisfying medicine,” but there hasn’t been enough evidence-based studies to know how POCUS is affecting outcomes. That’s from a new JAMA paper calling for more research on POCUS’ role in patient treatment and clinical outcomes, and less studies focusing on POCUS’ usability, accuracy, efficiency, and cost.
  • Philips Pediatric MRI Coaching: Philips introduced its new Pediatric Coaching solution, which combines augmented reality, gamification, and ‘buddy system’ techniques to reduce pediatric patients’ MRI-related anxiety. Patients begin interacting with Philips’ Pediatric Coaching characters from home using a mobile app, then interact with the same characters at the hospital while operating a child-size scanner, and finally they’re guided through the MRI exam by the characters’ images and audio projected within the MRI bore.
  • Osteoporosis AI: South Korean researchers developed a hip X-ray DL system for predicting osteoporosis, suggesting that it could be a useful screening method in regions without access to DXA exams or for screening hip X-rays that were performed for other purposes. The team developed and tested the DL model using hip X-rays from 1,001 female patients (aged ≥ 55yrs, 504 w/ OP), detecting osteoporosis with 81.2% accuracy using an internal dataset and 71.8% accuracy with an external set.
  • Subspecialty Benefits: Transitioning radiology workflows from a decentralized / modality-based structure to a centralized / subspecialty-based structure can make both radiologists and referrers more satisfied. A survey performed after a Swiss radiology network adopted the new centralized structure revealed that radiologists perceived their new reports to be higher quality (98.1% vs. 91.3%) and 95.7% of them preferred the new system. Meanwhile, referring physicians reported significantly higher overall satisfaction after the transition (94.3% vs. 84.9%) and viewed the new radiology reports as higher quality (92.4% vs. 72.8%).
  • The Radiologist Label Advantage: Using radiologist-made image labels for AI training might not be scalable, but they’re more effective than using NLP-generated labels. A Singapore-based research team used 112k CXRs with radiologist and NLP-made labels to train three different pneumothorax detection models. Every radiologist-labeled model achieved significantly higher AUCs than the NLP-labeled models when tested against the official NIH dataset (0.881 vs. 0.838, 0.880 vs. 0.839, 0.943 vs. 0.869) and against CXRs from an external dataset (0.806 vs. 0.686, 0.871 vs. 0.736, 0.915 vs. 0.822).
  • CMRI for Cardiac Tumors: A new European Heart Journal study provided the first large-scale validation of cardiac MRI’s accuracy diagnosing cardiac tumors, suggesting that CMRI could serve as a “one-stop-shop” for cardiac tumors. The multi-center study (n = 903 w/ suspected cardiac tumors) found that CMRI diagnosis matched clinicians’ final diagnosis with 98.4% of patients, while predicting mortality better than key clinical factors (LV ejection fraction, coronary artery disease, history of extracardiac malignancy).
  • DeepSight’s $25M: DeepSight Technology announced a $25m Series A round that it will use to develop its novel ultrasound platform that it claims could achieve 100x higher sensitivity than current ultrasounds. Although details are limited, DeepSight’s ultrasound platform appears to be based around its sensor technology, which the company is combining with software and AI to achieve its goal of improving and expanding ultrasound imaging.
  • Fast MRI’s Operational Impact: A new MGH study found that “fast MRI” significantly reduces acquisition times for the most common outpatient brain MRI protocols, providing both patient and operational advantages. A comparison of 1,000 exams before and after adopting fast brain MRI revealed that the accurately-named technique reduced MGH’s overall brain MRI acquisition times by 42% (18 vs. 31 min median), potentially allowing 10 more exams per day and $1.8m more reimbursements per scanner annually.
  • Ultrasound’s Tape Alternative: A new study in the Surfaces and Interfaces journal found that using adhesive tape as an ultrasound probe cover could be as effective and more efficient (applied / removed faster) than current cleaning methods. The researchers used customized acrylate pressure-sensitive adhesive tape on a skin-like phantom, finding that the tape effectively prevents cross-contamination while maintaining “excellent” image quality.
  • Delphinus’ SoftVue FDA: Delphinus Medical Technologies announced the FDA approval of its SoftVue 3D whole breast ultrasound tomography system as an adjunct to mammography for screening women with dense breasts (BI-RADS C or D). SoftVue can reportedly identify up to 20% more cancers in dense breasts than digital mammography, doesn’t require compression or radiation, and its exams’ unique prone positioning allows “an almost spa-like experience.”

Scaling AI with the Cloud

Trying to figure out how your IT resources can handle increased AI adoption? This Blackford paper details how the cloud is helping radiology organizations scale their computing resources to support multiple AI applications or algorithms.

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The Resource Wire

  • Room for more efficiency in your breast imaging operations? Check out this GE Healthcare post detailing how new technologies are improving patient experiences and making breast imaging teams more efficient.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the number one global cause of death, but it’s also preventable, which is one of the reasons why Zebra-Med views AI-powered cardiovascular screening as the next frontier in population health.
  • After more than 15 years of development, the world’s first photon-counting system is here to redefine CT. Register now and join Siemens Healthineers at the launch event on November 18 to be part of this quantum leap forward in technology.
  • CD burning issues? Check out this one-minute video showing how Novarad’s CryptoChart image sharing solution allows patients to easily access and share their medical images using personalized, highly secure QR codes (not CDs).
  • Check out this Radiographics study detailing 4D Flow MRI’s (found in Arterys’ Cardiac AI) blood flow assessment advantages over standard 2D phase-contrast MRI.
  • This European Radiology study highlighted Riverain Technologies’ ClearRead Xray – Detect as one of just two imaging AI products to achieve the FDA’s most stringent premarket approval level. See how they measured up against the other 99 AI tools here.
  • In this quick video, Sharp Memorial Hospital interventional radiologist, Jim Lyon, MD, describes the image quality and dose advantages of Canon Medical Systems’ Alphenix Sky+ system.
  • See how Florida’s Medical Center Radiology Group (MCRG) improved its workload distribution, team communication, and overall productivity after implementing Nuance’s PowerScribe Workflow Orchestration and PowerConnect Communicator solutions.
  • This Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology article details the unique advantages of cloud-based CVIS systems (off-property access, team collaboration), with insights from one Mississippi-based cardiologist on the benefits of Fujifilm Healthcare’s VidiStar CVIS.