#369 – The Wire

  • RSNA Expectations: We’re two weeks away from the first in-person RSNA since COVID and it appears that the folks who are headed to Chicago plan to make it count. RSNA already confirmed that it will be much smaller this year, but most of the expected exhibitors and people are going, and we’re not seeing late cancellations like we did with HIMSS (thanks, Delta). Based on early announcements, it looks like we’ll see some solid modality innovations (low-field MR, Photon-Counting CTs), continued cloud and AI-enabled PACS momentum, and a far more mature lineup of AI exhibitors. 
  • LDCT Matches CT for Appendicitis: A new study out of Finland found that low-dose CT matches standard CT for appendicitis assessments, suggesting that LDCT should become the standard clinical practice for non-obese patients. The researchers performed LDCT or CT exams on 856 patients with suspected appendicitis (454 w/ LDCT), finding that LDCT matched or surpassed CT for detecting appendicitis (98% vs. 98.5%) and differentiating between uncomplicated and complicated cases (90.3% vs. 87.6%). LDCT also outperformed CT when differentiating complication levels among patients with a BMI under 30 kg/m2 (89.8% vs. 88.4%).
  • Imaging’s Positive Q3: Despite supply chain headwinds, most major Imaging OEMs reported solid healthcare/imaging division revenue growth for the July-September quarter. Fujifilm once again posted the greatest healthcare growth due in part to its Hitachi integration (+46% to $1.8b), followed by Konica Minolta’s healthcare division (+24% to $271m), Hologic’s breast imaging division (+12.7% to $265m), Siemens Healthineers’ imaging business (+11.6% to $3.1b), Philips’ Diagnosis & Treatment division (+10% to $2.4b), and Canon Medical Systems (+9.8% to $1b). Meanwhile, supply chain issues caused GE Healthcare’s revenue to fall in Q3 (-5% to $4.3b). 
  • MSK’s Volume Prophecy: Memorial Sloan Kettering radiologists used Facebook/Meta’s open-source forecasting tool (Prophet) to accurately predict imaging volumes, showing how a tool like this could support resource planning. The team trained the Prophet tool with its daily CT and MRI volume data (610,570 exams, 2015-2019) and used it to accurately predicted MSK’s February 2020 CT (9,934 predicted vs. 9,667 actual) and MRI (2,484 vs. 2,457 actual) exam volumes – far more accurately than MSK’s manual approach. Even after major COVID-driven imaging shifts, the Prophet tool achieved similar accuracy in another August 2020 test.
  • NHS Digital Push: The UK government will give the NHS £248m over the next year to digitize its diagnostic workflows, bringing new solutions for image sharing, remote image reading, and appropriate imaging referrals. These upgrades are intended to allow the NHS to overcome its well-publicized diagnostic imaging backlog and help it prepare for a major initiative that will add over 100 community imaging centers during the next three years.
  • Siemens & UCSF Go Green: Siemens Healthineers and UCSF announced a new green radiology alliance that will lead to the first carbon-neutral radiology imaging service. UCSF’s carbon-neutral strategy will initially focus on improving patient access to scanners (thus reducing patient commutes), adopting Siemens’ unique MAGNETOM Free.Max MRI (low helium usage, small weight & footprint, flexible installation), and monitoring imaging power consumption.
  • Patient Satisfaction Drives Imaging Volumes: Ohio State researchers recently found that patient satisfaction might actually drive MRI scan volumes. Analysis of nine outpatient MRI sites during a one-year period (39,595 patient visits) found that OSU’s sites that increased their MRI volumes by >5% also saw their satisfaction scores increase, indicating that “patient experiences or perceptions of quality” might influence which centers they visit. Some might debate correlation and causation, but given the consumerization of outpatient imaging, this theory makes sense.
  • Mirion Acquires CIRS: Mirion Technologies continued its healthcare expansion, acquiring medical imaging and radiation therapy phantoms company, Computerized Imaging Reference Systems (CIRS) for $54m. Mirion has been a major player in the radiation measurement industry for years, and began its expansion into medical imaging when it acquired Biodex Medical Systems just over a year ago.
  • CXR ED AI: A new study out of South Korea found that emergency physicians’ CXR interpretations improved when they used Lunit’s INSIGHT CXR AI tool, especially inexperienced physicians (<2yrs experience). The researchers had seven ED physicians review 388 CXR cases to detect abnormalities and make clinical decisions (259 had abnormalities), first only using case information and then using INSIGHT CXR. The AI step led to far more clinical decision changes among the inexperienced physicians than the experienced physicians (106 vs. 20 changes), while AI improved abnormality detection accuracy with both groups (inexperienced: 70.23% to 76.35%; experienced: 71.39% to 76.37%).
  • Novarad OpenSight for Education: Novarad launched an education version of its OpenSight Augmented Reality System, allowing students and teachers to interact with CT scans using Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets, and giving them a 360-degree view of any CT slice in a study. We’re seeing VR gain momentum in both the clinic and the classroom, making this a logical expansion for Novarad.
  • Philips’ Gates Grant: Philips received a $15.4m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help fund the development of AI-based handheld ultrasound apps intended to improve obstetric care in developing countries. The apps will help front-line healthcare workers (e.g. midwives) acquire the right images using Philips’ Lumify ultrasound and then assist with image interpretation, allowing them to identify more early-stage pregnancy problems and reduce childbirth deaths and fetal mortality.

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-- The Imaging Wire team