#419 – The Wire

  • COVID Recoveries: A new Radiology Journal study brought some good news for those recovering from COVID-19, finding that 93% of patients who were hospitalized with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia (n = 84) had no residual chest CT abnormalities after one year. The patients’ CTs showed significant improvements in ground-glass opacity prevenance (100% at baseline vs. 2% at 12mo), consolidations (71% at baseline vs. 0% at 6mo), and fibrotic-like abnormalities (50% at 3mo, 42% at 6mo, 2% at 12mo).
  • RadNet’s AI Clearances: RadNet’s DeepHealth and Quantib subsidiaries scored FDA 510(k) clearances for updated versions of their flagship mammography and prostate MRI AI solutions. DeepHealth’s new Saige-DX solution (succeeds Saige-Q) automatically identifies suspicious lesions in mammograms and assigns suspicion levels to each finding and case, supporting detection and reducing unnecessary recalls. Quantib’s new Prostate 2.0 prostate cancer reporting solution (succeeds v1.3) adds automatic prostate zone segmentation (in addition to prostate gland segmentation) and localization of lesions on the PI-RADS sector map.
  • Tumor Board Attendance Impact: A new Clinical Radiology study found that neuroradiologists’ participation in tumor board meetings directly impacts their diagnostic accuracy. The researchers analyzed 607 diagnostic errors from a tertiary academic center, finding a strong correlation between radiologists’ tumor board participation and their error rates (Spearman’s Rank correlation coefficient: –0.89, p=0.0002), while there was no correlation between radiologist experience and diagnostic accuracy.
  • AI Funding Cools Down: Healthcare AI startups haven’t been immune to the recent plunge in health tech funding, with CB Insights reporting that the sector raised 32% less capital (still $2.5B) during the first quarter. The AI news comes right after Rock Health reported an 18% funding dropoff across all digital health companies in Q1 2022, breaking a streak of consecutive increases dating back to 2019. Despite last quarter’s slowdown, healthcare companies still led the AI sector in total funding and mega-rounds over $100M (7), but CB Insights predicts that we might see things continue to cool off before there’s a rebound.
  • Clarius & Turtle’s Home Fertility Alliance: Clarius Mobile Health and Turtle Health unveiled their at-home virtual transvaginal ultrasonography solution, combining Clarius’ handheld ultrasound and transvaginal scanner with Turtle’s virtual gynecology clinic. Although the solution is under FDA review, their initial study showed that it provided follicle count information that’s comparable to in-clinic exams with greater patient satisfaction ratings. The alliance also continues an influx in home ultrasound activity, coming just a few days after GE Healthcare’s investment in home maternity/fertility ultrasound startup Pulsenmore and amid increased interest from a number of other ultrasound vendors.
  • Home Dx Privacy: In other home care news, a Quest Diagnostics survey found many potential patients are concerned about how their at-home diagnostic data could be shared. Quest surveyed over 800 office workers, finding that 89% consider home health screenings an essential employment benefit, but 67% would not want their employer to know their results, and 55% are concerned about employer overreach in healthcare. This survey wasn’t specifically about imaging and few employers would likely support home imaging, but home imaging privacy concerns are likely similar.
  • ProFound AI Risk Impact: A new study out of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet highlighted iCAD’s ProFound AI Risk DBT solution’s ability to identify women with higher risks of developing breast cancer. The researchers used ProFound AI Risk to analyze DBT exams from 5,978 women (805 later diagnosed with cancer), achieving an 0.82 AUC (vs. traditional risk models’ 0.60 AUC). ProFound AI Risk marked 14% of the women as high risk, and those women represented 76% of all future stage II and III cancers and 59% of stage 0 cancers.
  • Travel Labor Impact: Hospital labor expenses have risen by 37% from pre-pandemic levels, according to Kaufman Hall’s latest workforce dislocation report, and traveling clinician labor costs were a main driver. Contract labor accounted for 11% of total hospital labor expenses in 2022, versus 2% in 2019, while contract nurses’ median hourly wages climbed 106% since the beginning of the pandemic (from $64 to $132 per hour).
  • iThera Targets DMD: iThera Medical is leading a €1.6m project to develop a machine learning-assisted optoacoustic imaging solution for pediatric Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) monitoring. The solution will combine iThera’s Multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) technology, ML-based 3D image reconstruction, and a handheld probe, and would potentially allow clinicians to better detect/quantify DMD biomarkers.
  • Mayo’s Pre-Imaging Chatbots: A new Mayo Clinic study showed that a text chatbot solution they deployed to screen for signs of COVID before patients’ outpatient imaging exams achieved decent participation (58.1% of 4,687 patients), high patient experience scores (avg 4.6 out of 5), and flagged roughly 4% of scheduled patients with COVID symptoms or pending tests. Unsurprisingly, English speaking patients were far more likely to respond to the texts (odds ratio: 2.71).
  • Data Breach Case Dismissed: A federal judge dismissed the class action data breach case against Northeast Radiology PC and Alliance HealthCare Services, finding that the plaintiffs’ allegations that the PACS breach could cause patients future harm was too speculative. The early 2020 breach officially affected 29 patients, but the lawsuit alleged that the breach potentially exposed 1.2M patient’s medical records, putting them at risk of future misuse of their information.

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-- The Imaging Wire team