#375 – The Wire

  • Fujifilm Velocity MRI: Fujifilm’s RSNA booth was highlighted by the company’s new Velocity MRI, combining the high-field Open MRI foundation that Fujifilm acquired from Hitachi (open gantry, patient comfort) with improved workflows and image quality (via integrated RF coils and enhanced reconstruction). The Velocity MRI is the first new product based on Hitachi’s core technology to launch under the unified Fujifilm Healthcare brand.
  • COVID’s Rad Reimbursement Impact: A new American Medical Association (AMA) report revealed that Medicare spending on diagnostic radiology physician services was 16% below expected in 2020 ($4.7B vs. $5.6B). That’s a slightly sharper decline than overall physician services (-14% to $82.9B) and a far steeper decline than interventional radiology (-4% to $523M). Although much of these declines were COVID-related, the AMA warned that upcoming Medicare reductions could exacerbate the pandemic’s reimbursement impact.
  • VA Cancer Diagnosis Declines: Speaking of COVID’s imaging impact. A recent Cancer Journal study revealed that pandemic disruptions led to substantial declines in new cancer diagnoses across the U.S. VA system in 2020. Although the VA’s cancer screening volumes rebounded by mid-2020, the health system detected far fewer prostate cancers (-23%), lung cancers (-13%), bladder cancers (-18%), and colorectal cancers (-20%) in 2020 compared to previous years.
  • Therapixel DBT Cleared: Therapixel announced the FDA clearance of its MammoScreen reading aid for DBT screening mammography, coming 1.5-years after MammoScreen gained its 510(k) approval for 2D mammography. MammoScreen detects and characterizes suspicious soft tissue lesions and calcifications in mammogram images, scoring each lesion based on malignancy likelihood.
  • Siemens’ Ultrasound Liver Analysis: Siemens Healthineers wrapped up its RSNA launches, adding advanced liver analysis to its ACUSON Sequoia ultrasound system. Siemens’ flagship general ultrasound now features Ultrasound Derived Fat Fraction (hepatic steatosis measurement tool) and Auto Point Shear Wave Elastography (liver stiffness quantification tool, reduces elastography exam times), allowing clinicians to perform liver tissue stiffness and hepatic fat quantification in a single acquisition.
  • Subspecialist Discordance: When thoracic radiologists review CT exams with incidental lung nodule findings that were initially read by non-thoracic rads, they often disagree with their recommendations. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell researchers had a thoracic radiologist review 215 emergency chest CTs exams that mentioned pulmonary nodules, finding that the thoracic rad disagreed with 82 of the initial recommendations (38%) and most commonly recommended more imaging (67%, 55/82).
  • Mach7 & ImageMover’s Enterprise Imaging Alliance: Mach7 Technologies will make ImageMover’s software available with the Mach7 VNA and Viewer, creating an end-to-end solution to capture, archive, and view DICOM and Non-DICOM encounter-based images and videos. The alliance will expand Mach7 beyond radiology/cardiology, adding support for a range of multi-specialty workflows (e.g. POCUS, endoscopy, dermatology, and wound care).
  • The Software Style Connection: A recent post from venture capital firm a16z detailed how consumers are increasingly choosing software based on a stylistic connection. The author makes the case that modern software’s shift to a “monotonously quirky, safe” aesthetic (this sums it up in one picture) has a broad appeal, but isn’t particularly compelling to any individual. This has caused many people to begin preferring software with a design that conveys personality, a useful lesson for imaging software companies (even if the author probably didn’t have medical imaging in mind).
  • Echo Automation: A new Lancet Digital Health study found that echocardiography AI tools (specifically Us2.ai’s) can classify, segment, and annotate echocardiographic videos with similar accuracy as expert sonographers. The researchers trained Us2.ai’s echo AI product with 1,145 annotated echocardiograms and tested/validated it against an internal dataset and three external datasets. Against the internal data, the automated workflow accurately classified 2D videos and Doppler modalities (91% to 99%) and accurately segmented the left ventricle and left atrium (Dice similarity coefficient >93%). The AI system’s measurements also showed good agreement with the external datasets’ sonographer measurements. 
  • Medimaps’ $20M: Imaging AI startup Medimaps raised $20M that it will use to expand and commercialize its bone health assessment portfolio. Medimaps’ flagship product, TBS iNsight, analyzes X-ray images to support a range of bone health use cases (opportunistic screening, risk profiling, presurgical assessment) and will qualify for Medicare reimbursements starting in January 2022.

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-- The Imaging Wire team