GE HealthCare took a major step towards expanding its ultrasound systems to new users and settings, acquiring AI guidance startup Caption Health.
GE plans to integrate Caption’s AI guidance technology into its ultrasound platform, starting with POCUS devices and echocardiography exams. GE specifically emphasized how its Caption integration will help streamline echo adoption among novice operators and bring heart failure exams into “doctors’ offices, the home, and alternate sites of care.”
- That’s particularly notable given healthcare’s major shift outside of hospital walls, especially considering that Caption has already developed a unique home echo exam and virtual diagnosis service.
- It’s also another sign that GE sees big potential for at-home ultrasound, coming less than a year after investing in home maternity ultrasound startup Pulsenmore.
GE didn’t disclose the tuck-in acquisition’s value. However, Caption is relatively large for an AI startup (79 employees on LinkedIn, >$62M raised) and is arguably the most established company in the ultrasound guidance segment (FDA & CE approved, CMS-reimbursed, notable alliances).
- The fact that GE HealthCare has already made two acquisitions since spinning off in early January (after a 16 month pause) also suggests that the newly-independent medtech giant has returned to M&A mode.
Of course, the acquisition is another sign that the imaging AI consolidation trend remains in full swing, marking at least the ninth AI startup acquisition since January 2022 and the third so far in 2023.
- One contributor to that AI consolidation surge appears to be ultrasound hardware vendors acquiring AI guidance companies, noting that GE’s Caption acquisition comes about six months after Exo’s acquisition of Medo AI.
Ultrasound’s potential expansion to new users and clinical settings could create the kind of growth that most modalities only experience once in their lifetime (or never experience), and ease of use might dictate how far ultrasound is able to expand. That could make this acquisition particularly significant for GE HealthCare and for ultrasound’s path towards far broader adoption.
GE Healthcare announced a major update to its molecular imaging lineup, launching the all-digital Omni Legend PET/CT.
The FDA-cleared and CE-marked Omni Legend is the first product to launch from GE’s new Omni PET/CT platform, and leverages an array of new technologies that drive big improvements to image quality, workflow efficiency, clinical versatility, and precision medicine.
- dBGO Detector – The Omni Legend is highlighted by its new digital BGO detector (dBGO), which provides 2.2-times higher sensitivity, 16% to 20% improved small lesion detection, and 53% faster PET scans.
- Precision DL – GE’s new Precision DL software expands the Omni Legend’s support for tracers “beyond FDG” (using image processing) and enhances image quality (using deep learning image reconstruction).
- Clinical Versatility – The above combination of sensitivity, image quality, and tracer compatibility allows the Omni Legend PET/CT to support a wider range of oncology, cardiac, and neuro use cases, in addition to supporting the diagnostics role within theranostics.
- Efficiency Forward – In addition to faster scan times, the Omni Legend supports GE’s efficiency solutions that streamline calibration (data quality assurance), simplify protocol selection (new UI), and reduce labor for patient positioning (AI-based Auto Positioning Camera).
- Future Ready – Like GE’s other recent advanced imaging launches, the Omni platform is built to support future upgrades, covering all core dimensions of PET/CT imaging (axial FOV, detector, software, CT, tracers, etc.).
A completely new PET/CT platform doesn’t come along very often, and GE Healthcare seems to have made the most of this rare occasion with Omni PET/CT, bringing many improvements that imaging teams are seeking today, along with the theranostics support and component upgradability that should pay off in the future.
GE Healthcare had another busy RSNA, highlighted by several major modality launches and an overarching focus on helping imaging teams be more productive.
Return to MR Hardware – After focusing on AIR Recon DL during the last two RSNAs, GE Healthcare’s MR team made sure to roll-out new hardware at this year’s show.
- GE’s MR section was headlined by its new SIGNA Hero 3T MR, which brings a wide range of improvements (image quality, workflows, productivity, comfort, reconstruction, helium & energy), and a major focus on operator efficiency.
- GE also unveiled the SIGNA Artist Evo, which allows health systems / imaging centers to upgrade their existing 1.5T 60cm-bore MRs with 70cm bore systems (w/ AIR Recon DL & AIR Coils), without the construction and downtime typically required when upgrading to a net new MR system.
GE’s Scalable CT Platform – GE unveiled the unique Revolution Apex platform, which offers the modularity and scalability to cover a wide range of current and future needs, and represents GE’s biggest CT launch since 2014.
- The FDA-cleared Revolution Apex CT is available with multiple detector coverage configurations (40mm, 80mm, 160mm, upgradable w/o replacing gantry) and is offered with GE’s new Smart Subscription service (allows software upgrades/downgrades, plus auto updates).
- True to GE’s productivity focus, the Revolution Apex also includes a range of features to improve technologist efficiency and/or expand clinical applications (e.g. “Effortless Workflow,” patient positioning camera, TrueFidelity DLIR, motion correction for cardiac).
Much More – GE Healthcare has been busy throughout 2021, so although the other products in its RSNA booth were still quite new, they’ve already been detailed in previous Imaging Wire issues. Some of these other highlights include its in-development Photon Counting CT, it’s now FDA-approved Endotracheal Tube X-ray AI tool, its StarGuide SPECT/CT scanner, and its recent alliance with Optellum.
GE Healthcare’s ultrasound portfolio became a lot more diverse last week with its acquisition of surgical ultrasound company BK Medical. Here’s some details and perspectives:
The Acquisition – GE Healthcare will acquire BK Medical from Altaris Capital Partners for $1.45b, separating BK Medical from Analogic. That’s a pretty big investment considering that GE’s ultrasound unit brings in $3b a year.
GE’s Surgical Expansion – With BK Medical, GE’s ultrasound unit expands from diagnostics to intraoperative imaging and surgical navigation, which is reportedly a fast-growing and high-margin business for BK Medical.
The BK Portfolio – BK Medical got its start in urology ultrasound, and more recently expanded to ultrasound systems used to guide minimally invasive and robotic surgeries and to visualize deep tissue during neuro and abdominal surgeries. That adds up to five unique ultrasound systems.
GE Impact – GE sees a lot of value in BK Medical. BK gives GE an ultrasound portfolio that the other OEMs can’t match (diagnostic, surgical, post-operative), “accelerates” GE’s precision health strategy, and will reportedly deliver “high-single-digit” ROI within five years.
GE Acquisition Trend – While GE Healthcare spent 2018 and 2019 selling major non-imaging businesses (value-based care to Veritas Capital, life sciences to Danaher), GE’s 2020 and 2021 acquisitions have focused on expanding its capabilities within imaging (Zionexa for radiopharmaceuticals, Prismatic Sensors for CT detectors, and now BK Medical for ultrasound). That says a lot about GE Healthcare’s imaging focus, and is quite different from Philips and Siemens, which have increasingly targeted M&A outside of imaging.