#392 – The Wire

  • Imaging’s Mixed Q4: After a year of solid growth, supply chain headwinds drove mixed healthcare/imaging division revenues from the major Imaging OEMs during the October-January period. Fujifilm once again posted the greatest healthcare growth due in part to its Hitachi integration (+43.6% to $1.73B), followed by Siemens Healthineers’ imaging business (+5.9% to $2.89B), Hologic’s breast imaging division (+5.5% to $282M), and Canon Medical Systems (+4.6% to $1.1B). Meanwhile, supply chain and other issues resulted in flat growth within Philips’ Diagnosis & Treatment division ($2.86B) and Konica Minolta’s healthcare division ($243M), and another YoY decline from GE Healthcare (-4% to $4.3B).
  • CMS Expands LDCT Coverage: CMS is officially expanding Medicare coverage for low-dose CT lung cancer screening to younger people with shorter smoking histories (50-77 vs. 55-77 age range; 20 vs. 30 smoking pack-years), aligning with the USPSTF’s early 2021 recommendations. As part of the coverage expansion, CMS scaled back requirements for reading radiologists (less education documentation), imaging facilities (not required to participate in registry), and counseling and shared decision-making (can be provided by non-clinical staff).
  • Mammography AI + Density Detection: A new study out of The Netherlands suggests that combining mammography AI detection and breast density measurements could identify more women who would be diagnosed with interval breast cancers. The researchers developed a neural network combining ScreenPoint Transpara and an open-access breast density solution using exams from 4,819 women (1,556 w/ interval cancers). When tested against exams from 2,064 women (666 w/ interval cancers), the combined solution identified the women who would have interval cancers with a 0.79 AUC, higher than the AI and breast density systems on their own (0.73 & 0.69).
  • Amazon Telehealth: After launching as an internal service in 2019, Amazon is now expanding its Amazon Care health offering to employers across the US. Amazon Care’s hybrid model consists of: (1) telehealth-based primary care delivered by a dedicated Care Medical doctor and (2) nurse practitioners dispatched to patient homes when medical needs can’t be resolved over video. Although the announcement didn’t mention imaging, it’s another solid reminder that all specialties should be monitoring the shift towards hybrid care. 
  • MRI Metamaterial Helmet: Boston University Photonics Center scientists reached another milestone in their metamaterial MRI research, developing a metamaterial helmet that improves low-field brain MR image quality at 2x normal scan speeds. This is the BU team’s first wearable metamaterial, after unveiling a flat array design several years ago.
  • Qure.ai’s NHS Support: Qure.ai landed £3.2M in NHS funding that it will use to support research into how its qXR AI tool might improve the NHS’s lung cancer detection workflows. The feasibility study would specifically explore qXR’s impact on chest X-ray lung nodule detection and reporting, and its downstream impact on lung cancer diagnosis times and costs.
  • Cholesterol’s CAC Caveat: A new JAMA study suggests that patients with severely elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (LDL-C, ≥190 mg/dL) might not actually be at high risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events if they have low CTA-based CAC scores. The study of 23,143 symptomatic patients (58yrs avg age, 4.2yr avg follow-up, 1,029 ASCVD events) found that patients with both extremely high cholesterol and 0 CAC scores (46% of high LDL-C patients) had comparable ASCVD event rates to the overall population (6.9 vs. 6.3 events per 1k person years).
  • More Home Healthcare: McKinsey forecasts that $265B of care services could switch from traditional facilities to the home by 2025, representing a 4x increase from today. Although radiology won’t be involved in much of this shift (e.g. hospice, behavioral health, dialysis), we’re already seeing major home care providers like DispatchHealth bolster their imaging capabilities and new efforts from the UK NHS to create home X-ray teams.
  • Cleerly 2.2.0: Cardiovascular AI startup Cleerly celebrated Heart Month with the release of Cleerly v2.2.0, adding new features to help clinicians and patients understand disease state, track progression, and support image sharing. Cleerly v2.2.0 now represents plaque measurements from coronary CTA scans as a percentage of total vessel volume (previously only as plaque volume), adds a new comparison tool that tracks disease by the amount and type of plaque in side-to-side views, and integrates with Ambra’s image sharing platform.
  • US Radiology’s Jersey Expansion: US Radiology Specialists’ nationwide expansion continued into New Jersey with its acquisitions of South Jersey Radiology Associates (41 radiologists, 11 locations) and Larchmont Imaging Associates (24 radiologists, 6 locations). The New Jersey acquisitions (first reported by Radiology Business) continue US Radiology Specialists’ rapid expansion, growing from a Charlotte-area private practice to over 180 locations and 15 states in under four years.
  • 3D UHF Ultrasound Alliance: FUJIFILM VisualSonics and PIUR Imaging launched a partnership to create and distribute 3D ultra-high-frequency (UHF) ultrasound imaging systems. The companies will combine PIUR’s tUS Infinity platform (transforms 2D ultrasound into 3D tomographic ultrasound) with FUJIFILM VisualSonics’ Vevo MD UHF ultrasound imaging systems, allowing clinicians and researchers to visualize and measure ultrasound volumes in 3D.

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-- The Imaging Wire team