#406 – The Wire

  • Optum Goes Home: Healthcare’s at-home shift gained momentum last week, after UnitedHealth’s Optum unit acquired home health provider LHC Group for a whopping $5.4B. Optum’s LHC acquisition comes a few months after several of the largest US health systems invested in home care startup Medically Home (Cardinal, Mayo, Kaiser), showing that traditional providers also see a big future within patient homes. This trend’s imaging impact is still taking shape, but it likely means more interest in mobile imaging providers, ultra-portable scanners, and software that allows non-experts to perform and send scans. 
  • Riverain’s Pneumothorax FDA: Riverain Technology is expanding to pneumothorax detection following the FDA clearance of its new ClearRead Xray Pneumothorax solution. Although Riverain primarily focused on lung nodule and lung cancer detection before now, ClearRead Xray Pneumothorax is a logical extension of its thoracic imaging expertise and workflows. It should also be a “clear” option for many ClearRead Xray users, some of whom were already using ClearRead Xray Bone Suppress to detect subtle pneumothorax.
  • BI-RADS 3 Clarity: A new JACR study provided rare insights into BI-RADS 3 mammography assessments, confirming that it is more widely used and less associated with future cancers than some might think. Analysis of the ACR National Mammography Database (3M diagnostic mammograms, 2009-2018) revealed that 15.5% of diagnostic exams were BI-RADS 3 (470k) and only 0.91% of those patients developed breast cancer within two years (below BI-RADS 3’s <2% risk benchmark). Patients with BI-RADS 3 assessments had a higher likelihood of malignancy if they had calcifications or were over 70-years old (odds ratios: 4.27 & 3.77).
  • PocketHealth’s $16M: Image sharing startup PocketHealth completed a $16M Series A round (total funding now $22.5M) that it will use to accelerate product development, go-to-market expansion, and adding to its team. PocketHealth’s uniquely patient-centric platform allows patients to access their images “whenever and wherever they need them” (via any device & browser), and is already used by over 600k patients and 550 provider sites.
  • TI-RADS AI Advantage: A recent Radiology Journal study highlighted a thyroid ultrasound AI model trained with TI-RADS scores (MTI-RADS), finding that it rivaled radiologist interpretations and outperformed an AI model trained on benign and malignant diagnoses (MDiag). When tested against a 243-nodule dataset, the MTI-RADS model detected malignant nodules with a 0.91 AUC (vs. MDiag’s 0.84, experienced rads’ 0.93, and junior rads’ 0.78), 83% sensitivity (vs. experienced rads’ 92%, and junior rads’ 70%), and 87% specificity (vs. experienced rads’ 80%, and junior rads’ 75%).
  • Philips Ultrasound Workspace: Philips kicked off ACC 2022 with the launch of its Ultrasound Workspace solution, which automates 2D and 3D quantification using echocardiography exams from any brand ultrasound system, and supports analysis / reporting from any browser-based device. Ultrasound Workspace is based on TOMTEC Imaging’s popular TOMTEC-ARENA software, marking a key integration step five years after Philips acquired TOMTEC. It also represents a move into vendor-neutral echo quantification, as Philips is discontinuing its homegrown QLAB software (only worked w/ Philips systems) to make room for Ultrasound Workspace. 
  • CTC’s Extracolonic Findings: New research out of Memorial Sloan Kettering revealed that many CT colonography exams performed on oncology patients end up producing extracolonic findings. Analysis of 855 consecutive CTCs revealed previously unknown malignancies in 66 patients (7.7%) and other significant findings in five patients (0.6%; e.g. bowel obstruction and cirrhosis). 
  • Optellum’s CE Mark: Optellum announced the CE mark certification of its Virtual Nodule Clinic, an AI-powered clinical decision support tool that clinicians can use to identify and track patients with suspicious lung nodules (already FDA-cleared). Optellum enters Europe with a head start, including an existing partnership with the UK NHS and ongoing involvement in several UK lung cancer screening and AI initiatives.
  • Reporting Variations: Analysis of 30k emergency radiology reports by 165 radiologists (all free-text, MRI or CT, involving a single anatomy, w/ pathological findings) revealed that variations in report content and structure are only partially due to patients’ diagnostic situation. The France-based study found that reports are generally shorter and include less diverse vocabulary during weekend shifts and when the radiologist just experienced an increased volume of cases. Recent increases in reading volume were also associated with less complex sentences, greater use of negative depictions (vs. positive), and more doubt and ambiguity.
  • Handheld Growth, Compact Stability: Signify Research forecasts that the handheld ultrasound segment will maintain a hefty 26% CAGR from 2020 to 2025, as user base expansion and tech innovations increase its global ultrasound revenue share from 3% to 6% ($158M to $494M). Handhelds won’t pose as much of a threat to compact ultrasounds as some might think, as the compact segment’s established clinical role, evolving capabilities, and higher ASPs drive decent revenue growth ($1.21B to $1.28B) despite a falling revenue share (20% to 17%).
  • SR Adds RAA: Strategic Radiology added Radiology Associates of Albuquerque (42 radiologists, 3 imaging centers, 45yrs in practice) to its consortium of independent radiology practices. The partnership expands SR into New Mexico for the first time, while increasing its membership to 31 practices and over 1,500 radiologists.

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