“. . . companies that people assume and think are AI companies are probably not.”
MMC researcher, David Kelnar, after finding that 40% of European AI startups don’t really use AI.
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- 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.
The Imaging Wire
Another Mid-Level Attack
Radiologists are up in arms over a new bill introduced in the Texas state legislature that would allow physicians to delegate “certain radiologic procedures” to advanced practice nurses including 1) reading and interpreting radiological studies and 2) rendering diagnoses based on studies. So basically, a huge part of radiologists’ job. It didn’t take long for a Change.org petition against this bill to accumulate thousands of signatures, with comments largely emphasizing the vital role of trained radiologists in interpretation and diagnosis. However, the many of the comments appeared just as focused on protecting the role of radiologists and other specialists from mid-level encroachment. More than a few suggested that if this Texas bill were to pass, it would contribute to the ongoing expansion of mid-levels’ authority, potentially reducing future demand for specialized physicians, and giving aspiring clinicians little reason to invest the time and money in becoming a radiologist (or other specialist) when they can do the same work with a lot less training. Some even called mid-levels a greater threat to the radiology profession than AI. Catastrophizing aside, these feelings are very real and so is this bill, making it worth keeping an eye on as we approach September 1st when it would become a law.
Research from UK-based venture capital firm, MMC, found that 40% of European startups that identify as AI companies don’t actually use artificial intelligence as a core part of their products or services. MMC researched 2,830 European AI startups, finding no evidence of AI playing a primary role at 1,132 of these companies, suggesting that many startups have embraced AI-centric messaging with the understanding that AI tech attracts 15% to 50% more investor funding than other technologies. This surely isn’t happening in imaging (wink), but regardless of the industry, its likely contributing to AI fatigue and hopefully encouraging companies with legitimate AI-based solutions to focus on the problems they solve in their messaging, more than the technology they use.
Siemens Gets Flexible with Artis icono Angio Line
Siemens Healthineers unveiled its new Artis icono angiography systems at ECR 2019, expanding and diversifying the company’s interventional portfolio. The launch was headlined by the diverse Artis icono biplane system, which was largely highlighted for its neuroradiology capabilities, but its C-arm can also be quickly reconfigured to support cardiovascular and abdominal interventions thanks to its Lateral Plane Switch system. The new line also includes the Artis icono floor, a (you guessed it) floor-mounted single-plane system, intended for vascular and interventional oncology procedures. Siemens Healthineers leaned-in on the new Artis icono family’s multifunctionality, suggesting that with the growth of image-guided interventions, the Artis icono models’ diverse functionality will help healthcare providers ensure that their angio labs are fully utilized and their angiography investments are “future-proofed.” The new systems are slated to ship to the US and Europe this summer, with their US FDA clearance still forthcoming.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s brief but effective run at the helm of the US FDA is now coming to an end, following the commissioner’s resignation this week. Although mainstream media headlines focused on Gottlieb’s efforts to battle the opioid crisis and curb teen vaping, the commissioner also had an impact on medical imaging including the FDA’s efforts to simplify the medical device clearance process and the development of the medical software precert program. Gottlieb’s resignation and 1-month notice came as a surprise to many, and reports suggest it truly is a move to allow him to spend more time with his family, not due to White House pressure or his own dissatisfaction. The list of potential successors is already circulating, and given healthcare’s looming technological changes and economic challenges, the new FDA chief will have some important decisions to make.
- Esaote launched its new MyLab X8 premium ultrasound system, replacing the over two-year-old MyLab Eight, and apparently completing the company’s ‘MyLab X’ series rollout that also includes the MyLab X5/X6/X7 family and premium MyLab X9 system. The MyLab X8 takes-on many of the premium features found in the flagship MyLab X9 system (control panel design, fast exam time, automation features), allowing Esaote position it as a mainstream system with higher-end features.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists proposed a new measurement approach that they claim could improve the CT scanner calibration process and allow clinicians to compare images captured from different CT devices and even different brands. The calibration method includes a number of steps already being performed to identify a CT’s Hounsfield unit measurements (HUs), but then links the HU information to the number of moles per cubic meter, creating measurements that can be compared across different machines.
- Siemens Healthineers announced the first U.S. installation of its Biograph Vision PET/CT system at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, marking a major milestone for what’s arguably the manufacturer’s most significant PET/CT system to launch in the last three to five years. The Biograph Vision gained FDA clearance last June, when it was heralded as “a major leap in performance beyond any PET/CT system previously manufactured,” and leads with its 3.2 mm LSO crystals, a 78-cm bore, and an industry-leading 249-picosecond Time of Flight.
- Northwestern University researchers developed new “skin-like” wireless sensors that can monitor babies in hospital NICUs, including during neonatal imaging exams. The researchers will next trial the sensors at hospitals in Zambia, India and Pakistan, targeting FDA approval in five years.
- New research from Cairo University found that automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) is more accurate than digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) when used as a diagnostic screening tool for women with dense breasts. The research looked at the workups of 242 women with dense breasts who were recalled after positive screening mammograms, finding that ABUS outperforms DBT in specificity (98% vs. 92%), positive predictive value (92% vs. 76%), and accuracy (97% vs. 92%), while equaling DBT in sensitivity (92%) and negative predictive value (98%).
- RadNet and the Dignity Health hospital network announced a new Ventura, California-area joint venture that will combine three RadNet imaging centers (Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo) and a Dignity Health imaging center co-located with its St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. The joint venture follows a 2016 deal between RadNet and Dignity Health in the Glendale, California market that followed a similar formula.
- A recent study found that the Australia and New Zealand-based Breast Screen Reader Assessment Strategy (BREAST) radiologist training program led to impressive mammogram reading improvements. The study looked at 40 radiologists and 10 radiology registrars who used the online training program at least three times each between 2011 and 2017. The program drove 21% to 31% sensitivity improvements among the radiologists with 83% of radiologists achieving improved lesion sensitivity after the first test, while 60% of the radiology registrars improved their accuracy in the second test and 100% of the registrars improved their performance by test three.
- ECR 2019 brought the debut of Bayer’s new MEDRAD Centargo CT injection system, which is expected to gain CE clearance this summer, and leads with features intended to streamline daily (<2 minutes) and patient (<20 seconds) setup. The MEDRAD Centargo CT injector also touts an integrated barcode reader to reduce manual data entry and supports traceability and access to contrast and injection information.
- Konica Minolta’s imaging CRO subsidiary, Invicro, and Belgian neuroimaging data solutions company, icometrix, announced a partnership that will combine Invicro’s imaging core lab services with icometrix’s brain imaging informatics solutions as part of an automated workflow. The combined solution is intended to automate pharma and biotech companies’ neurological drug R&D operations with a solution that spans from site set-up, training, data management, sharing, and analytics.
- St. Paul Radiology and Suburban Radiologic Consultants merged to create Midwest Radiology, which immediately becomes the largest independent private radiology practice in the Minneapolis area and one of the largest in the US. The Midwest Radiology group will include 150 radiologists and 10 outpatient imaging centers, while serving 75 hospitals and clinics throughout the northern Midwest, and giving the group the scale they believe is necessary to thrive while remaining independent.
- The International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS) filed a petition urging the US FDA to remove the “black box” from ultrasound contrast agent (UCA) labels, citing research that positions UCAs as “among the safest diagnostic imaging products available” and suggesting that the labeling inappropriately deters UCA usage at the expense of patient care.
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.