#405 – The Wire

  • Inpatient Care’s Decline: A new Moody’s report suggests that the pandemic accelerated the decline of inpatient care, with hospital outpatient revenue exceeding inpatient revenue every year since 2016. The firm predicts this trend will continue gaining momentum in the face of reimbursement changes and the rise of virtual care, pressuring systems that don’t have strong home care programs, while directing more inpatient demand towards hospitals that specialize in complex care.
  • Transpara’s Detection Promise: A new study out of Norway highlighted ScreenPoint Transpara’s “promising” performance detecting cancer in mammography screening exams. The researchers used Transpara to analyze 122,969 screening mammograms from 47,877 women (w/ 752 screen-detected cancers, 205 interval cancers), and compared its results to radiologists’ double-reading interpretations and final outcomes. Transpara assigned its highest risk score (10 out of 10) to 86.8% of the screen-detected cancers and 44.9% of the interval cancers, while only 0.7% of screen-detected cancers were assigned its lowest risk score (1 out of 10).
  • FDG PET/CT’s SBRT Predictions: A new Lancet study highlighted FDG PET/CT’s ability to accurately predict stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) treatment outcomes among patients with inoperable early-stage lung adenocarcinoma. The Brazil-based research team analyzed data from 47 patients who underwent SBRT, finding that none of the 19 patients with low FDG-PET/CT SUVmax values (≤ 5) experienced treatment failures (recurrence or metastasis), while 10 of the 28 patients with high FDG-PET/CT SUVmax values (≥ 5) experienced treatment failures.
  • Qure.ai Funded: Qure.ai completed a $40M funding round (total now $56M not including Fractal’s startup funding) that it will use to support further expansion into the US and Europe and to intensify its product development efforts. This is one of the bigger AI funding rounds we’ve seen in the last year, and Qure.ai certainly earned it after building one of the broader AI portfolios and establishing itself as imaging AI’s TB and developing world leader. That also makes Qure.ai’s increased focus on western regions worth keeping an eye on.
  • Paracentesis & Thoracentesis Shifts: A UPMC-led study of 2012-2018 Medicare data revealed major increases in image-guided paracentesis (171k to 253k) and image-guided thoracentesis (187k to 222k) procedure volumes, while blind paracentesis and thoracentesis volumes declined (17k to 12k; 26.7k to 15k). Although radiologists’ overall image-guided paracentesis / thoracentesis volumes increased, their share of these procedures actually declined (83.9% to 77.1%; 73.6% to 66.2%) due in part to a shift towards Advanced Practice Providers (10.2% to 15.8%; 7.7% to 12.9%).
  • Aidoc’s Pneumothorax FDA: Aidoc announced the FDA 510(k) clearance of its new pneumothorax triage and notification solution, marking the company’s 8th FDA-cleared AI product and its first to analyze X-ray exams (all others analyze CT/CTA/CTPA). Aidoc joins a long list of AI vendors with pneumothorax solutions, but should be able to rely on its integrated triage platform and large user base to stand out in the pneumothorax AI crowd.
  • Fewer False Positives with DBT: A new JAMA study showed that DBT is less likely to produce false positive breast cancer screening results than digital mammography, although false positives remain high with both methods. The large-scale study (903k women, 2.96M exams, 2005-2018 period) revealed that women screened with DBT had lower 10-year probabilities of receiving at least one false positive recall whether they participate in annual (49.6% vs. 56.3%) or biennial screenings (35.7% vs 38.1%). DBT also had lower 10-year risks of short-interval follow-up recommendations (annual: 16.6% vs 17.8%; biennial: 10.3% vs 10.5%) and biopsy recommendations (annual: 11.2% vs 11.7%; biennial: 6.6% vs 6.7%).
  • US Health Spending Flattens: Despite increased patient care demand, CMS’ 2021-2030 National Health Expenditure report revealed that national health spending growth slowed to 4.2% in 2021 (vs. 9.7% in 2020) due in part to a drop in COVID-related federal aid. CMS forecasts national health spending to increase by 5.1% annually through 2030 when it will reach nearly $6.8 trillion. Given expected US GDP growth, healthcare’s share of GDP should remain relatively steady (19.7% in 2020 vs. 19.6% in 2030). 
  • ConcertAI’s $150M: TeraRecon’s parent company, ConcertAI, completed a massive $150M funding round, increasing its total funding to $300M and pushing its valuation to $1.9B. The announcement made it quite clear that ConcertAI’s strategy and hefty valuation are mainly tied to its life sciences and biopharma business (not specifically diagnostic imaging). That said, ConcertAI previously revealed plans to integrate TeraRecon’s imaging solutions into its core research/trial platform, so it’s likely that some of this funding will support this integration strategy.
  • The DBT Mandate Effect: A new JAMA study revealed that statewide mandates requiring DBT mammography screening coverage increase DBT utilization, and decrease the overall cost of DBT exams, but don’t significantly impact costs to patients. Using Blue Cross Blue Shield data (n = 9.6M screenings, 5.7M women, 2015 and 2019) the study showed that statewide mandates increased DBT utilization by an average of 9 percentage points within the first two years, while overall exam costs fell by an average of $38.70 and patient OOP costs fell by just $2.10 (some states increased).
  • Addressing Societal Bias: A recent report from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposed expanding our list of AI bias sources to include broader societal factors that influence how AI tools are developed and used. The NIST encouraged a “socio-technical” approach to combating AI bias that would expand AI stakeholders well beyond the current technology and data-focused groups. The new NIST guidance is intended to address all kinds of AI use cases (e.g. hiring, education, criminal justice), but their recommendation certainly applies to healthcare.

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-- The Imaging Wire team