#414 – The Wire

  • GE Healthcare & Medtronic’s ASC Alliance: GE Healthcare and Medtronic will combine their portfolios for a new cardiovascular offering targeted at the fast-growing Ambulatory Surgery Center and Office Based Lab segments. GE’s contribution will center around its cardiac and peripheral vascular products (C-arms, ultrasound, monitoring), as well as its digital solutions and consultative services. Medtronic will provide a range of products (cardiac rhythm, pain management, peripheral vascular, kyphoplasty) in addition to its field and business services.
  • Portal Positives: A new JMIR study highlighted patients’ overwhelmingly positive response to University of Colorado Anschutz’s addition of radiology report and image viewing to its online portal. A survey of patients who used the portal’s new radiology features (n = 299 responses out of 1,825 requests) revealed that the vast majority had favorable experiences (86.3%), found reading their reports and viewing their images to be valuable (96.3% & 89.3%), and believed viewing their images improved their understanding of their condition (82.9%). Although all negative survey questions had <7% agreement rates (e.g. errors, confusion, anxiety), 26.7% of patients experienced technical difficulties.
  • Nanox.AI’s VCF Analysis FDA: Nanox.AI announced the FDA clearance of its HealthOST AI solution, which produces qualitative and quantitative analysis of vertebral compression fractures and low bone density using CT exams. HealthOST builds upon Nanox.AI’s AI Health Bone population health solution, which detects vertebral compression fractures in existing chest CTs, and gained FDA clearance in May 2020.
  • Tech’s Growing Role: An Elsevier Health survey of nearly 3k clinicians found that “technology literacy” is expected to become clinicians’ most valuable capability over the next decade, ranking even higher than “clinical knowledge.” Despite technology’s growing role within medicine, 69% reported feeling overwhelmed with their current data volume, while the same share predicted that the burden will become greater in the future. As a result, 83% said that training needs to be overhauled to keep pace with changing tech.
  • Intelerad’s New Chiefs: Intelerad named software and consulting leader AJ Watson as its new Chief Product Officer and made digital health veteran Paul Johnson its new Chief Delivery Officer, highlighting their focus on integrating Intelerad’s recently-acquired solutions and advancing its product and client service operations. Intelerad appears to be placing an emphasis on expanding its client services leadership team, as it similarly appointed Jean Boyle (formerly of Sectra) to lead its global professional services in late 2021.
  • Omnipaque Shortage: GE Healthcare recently informed its imaging clients of an Omnipaque iodinated contrast shortage, prompting the OEM to limit orders to 15% of typical volumes. Like many COVID era supply chain issues, the Omnipaque shortage was caused by China’s recent government-mandated shutdowns. However, the Omnipaque issue seemed to raise more alarm than previous imaging hardware shortages. GE expects supply levels to rebound by late June.
  • CTC’s Unique Utilization: A new JACR study showed that CT colonography utilization remains very low, but is more common among racial minorities that typically receive less imaging. Analysis of 13,709 individuals (2019 data, 50-75yrs, no colon cancer history) found that just 1.4% had ever undergone a CTC exam. However, CTC appeared to be gaining adoption, with 40% of those patients receiving CTC exams within the previous year and another 18.5% between 1-2 years. Interestingly, Hispanic and Black patients were far more likely to have undergone CTC exams (odds ratios: 2.67 & 2.47), which is quite different from most screening studies.
  • Zepp Adds Imaging Stake: Zepp Health further expanded its imaging holdings, announcing an additional investment in point-of-care MRI startup Promaxo (its second) that will expand their alliance to include sharing AI resources, Chinese regulatory support, and product manufacturing. In just a few years, Zepp Health has evolved from a large Chinese smartwatch company (when it was known as Huami) to becoming a stakeholder in the three biggest PoC MRI companies (Promaxo, neuro42, Hyperfine) and partnering with two portable X-ray companies (Aspen Imaging & Rouumtech).
  • AB-MRI’s Economic Threshold: A new study in European Radiology suggests that Abbreviated Breast MRI (AB-MRI) exams must have at least 20% lower costs than full protocol breast MRI in order to offset AB-MRI’s lower specificity, higher recalls and false positives, and impact on future quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The authors compared AB-MRI and bMRI screening scenarios across various costs and QALY willingness-to-pay levels, finding that the economics of AB-MRI become superior to bMRI at or below $259 per exam (80% of bMRI).
  • Mobile Fraud: The president of Ohio-based mobile imaging company, Portable Radiology Services, was found guilty of healthcare fraud after billing Medicare and Medicaid for roughly $2M in X-ray services at nursing homes that didn’t take place (including 151 on patients that were already deceased). Mobile imaging providers have a long history of fraud (here are some previous cases), due to their vulnerable clientele and the fact that these scans can be done without physician authorization.
  • NYU’s AI Breakthrough: NYU’s Center for Data Science achieved what might be a key step towards understanding AI decision making, and could support the creation of more robust and clinical-ready AI. Their proposed framework measures how AI and radiologist performance varies when image features are altered, allowing developers to confirm if AI is making predictions for clinically-valid reasons. When using the framework to evaluate a mammography AI model, they found that its analytical process was consistent with radiologists when detecting microcalcifications, but flagged soft tissue lesions for very different reasons (different image features & areas of images). 

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-- The Imaging Wire team