Of AI and Technologists | Hyperfine POC MRI

“Could these promises be likened to the offer of a faster conveyor belt in an assembly line where workers are already struggling to meet demand?”

Andrew Murphy BMedImagingSc, MMIS, RT(R) and Brian Liszewski, BSc MRT(T), questioning whether AI’s role as a burnout panacea might have some unintended consequences.

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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
  • 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

Of AI and Technologists

Following dozens of papers and hundreds more Twitter threads about AI’s potential impact on radiologists, a new article from a pair of Canada-based radiation professionals (one from the radiology tech side, the other a radiation therapist) discussed how artificial intelligence might impact the diagnostic and radiation therapy professions and what RTs/MRTs can do about it. Here are some of the big takeaways.

The AI Threat – The authors highlighted the massive efforts taking place to revolutionize radiology and radiation oncology with AI, noting that although AI’s threat to physicians might get most of the attention, AI efficiencies could have a major impact on RTs and MRTs. For example, AI triaging tools used to prioritize worklists could make radiographers’ role in frontline image interpretation unnecessary.

The AI Upside – Despite these concerns, the authors suggest that AI-based image abnormality detection tools could actually enhance the role of radiographers, allowing them to act on flagged abnormalities and expedite treatment. Meanwhile, radiation therapists’ very human role as patient advisors should remain valuable despite AI efficiencies that are created along the cancer treatment pathway.

The AI Response – This paper seems to be mainly intended as a call-to-action for radiation professionals, encouraging them to solidify their role at the point where technology and patients converge and encouraging them to “make [their] voices heard” when AI policies are being created.

Given the hundreds of thousands of non-MD radiation professionals out there, this is an important paper and it will hopefully lead to some equally important dialog and action. The paper also earns some extra Imaging Wire praise for its layman readability compared to most pieces you’ll find in scientific journals. Machines haven’t taken our jobs yet, so we might as well not write like them.

Hyperfine POC MRI

Hyperfine Research and Yale School of Medicine announced a collaboration that brought what Hyperfine is calling “the world’s first portable, low-cost MRI” to patient bedsides. Here are the details:

Hyperfine MRI – This truly portable MRI was developed with the goal of making “MRI accessible and available anywhere, anytime, to any patient who needs it.” Hyperfine’s point-of-care MRI has a far lower magnetic field than standard systems and can even be powered by a typical wall plug, which are two keys to its portability. Speaking of portable imaging devices, Hyperfine was founded by Butterfly Network founder Jonathan Rothberg and is part of his $700 million 4Catalyzer accelerator.

Hyperfine & Yale – Yale New Haven Hospital is the first hospital to adopt the Hyperfine POC MRI, using it for patients with known brain pathology (e.g. hemorrhages, ischemic stroke, tumors). This is part of a 2-year study with the American Heart Association that’s intended to make MRI more accessible to neuro ICU patients. YNHH has performed 138 brain MRI exams with the Hyperfine system so far (testing its clinical workflow, user interface, and image quality) and plans to release initial findings in early 2020.

Worth Some Attention – Although head-only and point-of-care MRI systems aren’t particularly new (here’s another recent one), the fact that Hyperfine is part of Rothberg’s push to democratize imaging and is starting out with a Yale partnership gives it some early credibility.

The Wire

  • New research published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology found that “maximizer” thyroid cancer patients, who want to monitor for the disease to the fullest extent regardless of impact on their outcomes, drive far more healthcare/imaging use and costs than “minimizer” or “moderate maximizer” patients. The study looked at 2,183 former thyroid cancer patients and defined their maximizer status, finding that 38.5% of “strong maximizers” had ≥ 4 doctor visits (vs. 25.2% for “minimizers” and 27.3% for “moderate maximizers”) and 29.5% had ≥ 2 neck ultrasounds (vs. 18.3% and 24.9%) in the last year.
  • Bayer announced collaborations with eleven digital health startups through its G4A Digital Health Partnerships program, including imaging analysis and AI platform provider Blackford Analysis. The G4A program’s early stage “Growth Track” companies are provided €75k in funding, co-working space at Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals headquarters for co-creating products/solutions, and mentoring/coaching by Bayer executives. The program’s “Advance Track” is positioned for more advanced companies and provides them with an unspecified amount of early funding followed by ongoing milestone-based payments.
  • A new healthcare and life science executive survey (n=500) from OptumIQ revealed an 88% increase in organizations that implemented an AI strategy since its last survey in 2018 and that the organizations will devote an average of $39.7 million into AI over the next five years (vs. $32.4m in 2018). The executives are also expecting quicker ROI from AI, with 50% expecting to see a tangible cost savings in ≤3 years (vs. 31% 2018), with particularly strong improvements from hospital and health plan executives.
  • Pulsify Medical closed a €2.6 million seed round to fund the development of new wearable ultrasound patches used for non-invasive cardiac monitoring. Pulsify generated the funding from Belgian nanotechnology company imec and university KU Leuven and will leverage their existing IP, including imec’s ultrasound tech and KU Leuven’s cardiac ultrasound imaging expertise.
  • Siemens Healthineers unveiled its FDA/CE-cleared Acuson Redwood ultrasound, positioning it as a cost-effective multi-department system (radiology, cardiology, and ob/gyn) with shared services cardiac, Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound (CEUS), and Shear Wave Elastography capabilities. Built on Siemens’ latest Acuson ultrasound platform (positioned below the Acuson Sequoia & Juniper), the system also features improved lesion detection/characterization, support for 13 transducers, new AI-powered efficiency tools, and a lightweight and portable design.
  • Canon Medical Systems announced its new office-based lab (OBL) and ambulatory surgery center (ASC)-targeted Alphenix Aero Edition interventional imaging systems, positioning the packages as a way to allow OBLs and ASCs to access premium technology that fits their budgets. The Alphenix Aero Edition packages are available in Alphenix Core + (Alphenix Core + Aero Edition) and Alphenix Sky (Alphenix Sky Aero Edition) configurations with options for 12×12 or 12×16 flat panel detectors. This launch comes just a few weeks after a Bain report highlighted the growth of ASCs and called for budget-centric solutions just like this from medtech vendors, so it looks like Canon’s picked up on this need as well.
  • Omega Medical Imaging announced the FDA clearance of its FluoroShield region of interest radiation reduction solution configured with its 2020 Cardiac Flat Panel Detector. FluoroShield, which first gained FDA clearance this spring, combines an AI algorithm, an ultra-fast collimator, and image processing technology to reduce radiation exposure during interventional fluoro or cine cases by up to ~84%.

The Resource Wire

  • In this post Nuance Diagnostics SVP & GM, Karen Holzberger, shares how Nuance’s mPower Clinical Analytics Healthcheck service scours unstructured data in radiology reports to generate detailed analyses that improve financial and patient outcomes.
  • Focused ultrasound expert, Larry Crum, PhD, shares his experiences as one of the pioneers of focused ultrasound technology and offers a glimpse of where the field is headed in the latest Focused Ultrasound Foundation blog post.
  • Yale University research reveals that the average patient drives past six lower-cost providers on the way to an imaging procedure, due in large part to patients’ and physicians’ limited cost consciousness.
  • Medmo helps address this issue by letting patients enter what they can afford for their scan, then booking them at a nearby imaging center willing to accept that rate.
  • 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.

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