#379 – The Wire

  • GLEAMER’s AI Trifecta: A new Radiology Journal study built a solid case for GLEAMER’s skeletal fracture AI tool. The study had 24 readers (rads, orthopedists, rheumatologists, emergency physicians, PAs, PCPs) interpret 480 X-ray exams with and without AI assistance. When the clinicians had AI support, their sensitivity per patient was 10.4% higher (75.2% vs. 64.8%), their specificity was 5% better (95.6% vs. 90.6%), and their average reading times fell by 6.3 seconds. The AI tool also achieved an impressive 0.97 AUC when operating independently.
  • GE & Minerva’s Theranostics Alliance: GE Healthcare and Minerva Imaging announced plans to jointly develop targeted radionuclide therapies. The partnership will allow Minerva to expand its R&D and production facility, and establish its in-house isotope production and radiopharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities, with the help of GE’s cyclotron tech and manufacturing expertise.
  • Radiologist Comp Up: Doximity’s 2021 Physician Compensation Report (n = 40k physicians) revealed that radiologists earned an average of $495k this year, making it the US’ 12th highest-paid specialty. The report suggests that radiologist comp has increased significantly since Doximity’s 2019 and 2020 surveys ($429k & $485k), although many rads might find this 15% increase surprising.
  • Early LC Diagnosis Evidence: Mount Sinai researchers released perhaps the strongest evidence supporting lung cancer screening, countering previous studies that attributed declining lung cancer mortality rates to new therapies. Their analysis of 312k patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer between 2006 and 2016 revealed that notable improvements in early-stage and late-stage diagnosis rates (early = 26.5% to 31%; late = 71% to 66%) drove 4% average annual declines in lung cancer deaths. 
  • Making Sense of the Medicare Reprieve: With Congress’ last-minute efforts to reduce 2022’s Medicare cuts now official, Healthcare Administrative Partners published a helpful breakdown of how radiology will be affected. The Medicare conversion factor rate for physicians will now fall by just 0.82% to $34.61 (vs. -3.71% to $33.59), the automatic 2% Medicare payments cuts will be suspended through March (increasing to 1% in April-June, and 2% in July), and the 4% PAYGO sequestration will be delayed until at least 2023.
  • Koios Cleared: Koios Medical took a big step in its ultrasound AI platform strategy with the FDA clearance of its Koios DS cancer detection/reporting platform for both thyroid cancer and breast cancer. The 510k makes Thyroid DS available for the first time, while clearing an updated version of its Breast DS tool (v3.0, earlier versions cleared since 2018). The Koios DS platform will launch with momentum, following its inclusion in the AMA’s latest CPT Category 3 codes and an FDA Breakthrough Device Designation.
  • Healthcare Hits the $4T Mark: In 2020, the US healthcare market crossed the $4T threshold for the first time, growing 9.7% to reach $4.1T. Last year represented a sharp acceleration from the 4.3% increase seen in 2019, largely driven by the federal government’s active approach to supporting public health in response to the pandemic. While overall healthcare utilization declined during 2020, healthcare’s share of the US economy spiked to 19.7%, due to a combination of federal involvement and a 2.2% decline in total gross domestic product.
  • Healthcare Execs’ AI Excitement: Optum’s annual AI survey of over 500 senior healthcare executives found that respondents are excited about AI’s potential to improve outcomes in multiple areas, including virtual patient care (41%), diagnosis (40%), and medical image interpretation (36%). The survey results indicate that AI will continue to be a significant focus moving forward, given that 85% of healthcare leaders have an AI strategy, while only 48% have implemented it.
  • AutoProstate: A University College London and King’s College London team introduced their AutoProstate deep learning framework, which as its name suggests, automates radiologists’ prostate cancer assessments by providing them with reports pre-loaded with patient data and mpMRI analysis (segmentations, prostate size/density, significant lesions, key findings). An external validation found that AutoProstate improved prostate volume and PSA density estimation, but its high false positive rates will have to be addressed before moving on to prospective studies.
  • Mixed Imaging Confidence: The AHRA’s latest Medical Imaging Confidence Index (n = 138; score range: 0-200) revealed that US imaging managers / directors started Q4 2021 with a “neutral” 108 overall score (vs. a “high” 117 score in Q3 2021). The Imaging leaders remained optimistic about scan/IR volume growth (130 vs. 136) and imaging’s growing role as a profit center (135 vs. 142), although they were far less confident about reimbursements (93 vs. 98), operating cost stability (89 vs. 113), and access to capital (98 vs. 101).

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-- The Imaging Wire team