#431 – The Wire

  • Kheiron’s Pivot: Mammography AI startup Kheiron Medical has reportedly paused most of its commercial operations after an unsuccessful funding round forced it to pivot to a partner-led strategy. Kheiron reportedly let go of much of its sales, marketing, and customer success team, but will continue to develop its mammography screening suite and now plans to go-to-market through OEM partnerships. Kheiron’s pivot continues imaging AI’s tumultuous 2022, which started with MaxQ’s pivot to non-imaging AI and the acquisitions of Aidence and Quantib (by RadNet) and Nines (by Sirona).
  • IOTA’s Interobserver Advantage: A new Abdominal Radiology study suggests that the “IOTA simple rules” ultrasound ovarian tumor classification system yields far more consistent results when evaluating adnexal masses compared to the common O-RADS system. The researchers had eight radiologists evaluate pelvic ultrasound exams from 114 women (w/ 118 adnexal masses), finding that the IOTA simple rules method produced higher interobserver agreement rates overall (0.765 vs. 0.725), among attendings (0.769 vs. 0.621), and among abdominal radiology fellows (0.757 vs. 0.725).
  • Bayer’s Calantic Platform: Bayer Radiology took a big step beyond contrast, launching its new Calantic Digital Solutions platform. The cloud-based and vendor neutral platform will feature a suite of digital and AI apps that are intended to support radiologist workloads throughout the patient journey (triage, detection, and quantification) and are organized by body region and diagnostic procedure (initially thoracic and neurological). The AI marketplace segment might be approaching saturation, but Bayer Radiology’s broad contrast software customer base, deep radiology segment knowledge/relationships, and Fortune 200 backing give Calantic advantages that few platform startups can rival.
  • UK Radiologist Shortage: The Royal College of Radiologists’ 2021 Radiologist Census shed new light on the UK’s major radiologist shortage. The UK’s consultant radiologist shortage stood at 29% as of September 2021 (1,669 full-time equivalents), which the RCR forecasts will reach 39% by 2026 (3,166 FTE) without more funding. Although the UK increased its consultant radiologist workforce by 6% in 2021 (3,902 to 4,127) and now employs more radiologists who were trained outside of the UK (29% in 2016 to 35% in 2021), these increases have haven’t been enough to address the country’s radiologist shortage.
  • Photon-Counting CT’s Oncology Dose Reductions: A new Academic Radiology study highlighted photon-counting technology’s ability to significantly reduce radiation dosage in oncologic abdominal CT exams compared to dual-source CT, which is particularly important given oncology patients’ exposure to repetitive exams. The researchers performed abdominal photon-counting and dual-source CT exams on 70 oncologic patients, finding that photon-counting achieved 32% lower dosage than dual-source CT, while producing similar image quality and better lesion visibility.
  • Microsoft & Volpara’s BAC Initiative: Volpara and Microsoft launched a new R&D initiative intended to speed the development of a new mammography AI product that detects and quantifies breast arterial calcifications (BACs), which are a sign of cardiovascular disease. The new product will generate a tissue composition map that identifies and quantifies BACs in mammograms.
  • Federated Learning Alliance: Indian healthcare giant Aster DM Healthcare teamed up with CARPL and Intel to develop and launch their new Secure Federated Learning Platform, which will be offered as a service to AI developers and data custodians. Built with the companies’ combined technology and clinical expertise, the FL platform will allow security/privacy-protected AI training and help developers overcome site/geography-specific data silos (and related generalizability issues).
  • The Impact of Interruptions: Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology lived up to its name again, detailing the significant impact of radiologist interruptions. Researchers observed 13 pediatric radiologists for 61 hours, finding that the radiologists’ shifts were almost evenly split between interpreting studies and handling interruptions (52% reading / 48% discussions/consults). The longest any radiologist made it without an interruption was 20 minutes, and although 70% of interruptions lasted under one minute, each interruption increased total reporting times by between one minute (for X-rays) and 10 minutes (for MRIs).
  • Reconsidering Alzheimer’s PET Coverage: The U.S. CMS is reconsidering its recent national coverage determination that limits coverage of PET beta amyloid exams for Alzheimer’s disease clinical studies to one scan per patient lifetime. The federal agency is holding a public comment period through July 15 that will support its final decision in March 2023.
  • Identifying CTPA Artifacts: An MGH team developed an AI model that can identify CTPA exams with motion artifacts that are likely to impact diagnostic interpretations, allowing technologists to know when a re-scan is necessary. After training and validating the AI model with 534 CTPA exams from two sites, it was able to classify 259 CTPAs from a third site (“motion” or “no motion”) with 94% sensitivity, 91% specificity, 93% accuracy, and a 0.93 AUC.
  • Rezolut’s LA Expansion: Imaging center company Rezolut continued its Los Angeles area expansion, acquiring Centrelake Imaging & Oncology (10 imaging centers, opened in 2006). Rezolut has taken advantage of its PE funding, acquiring ten companies in the last three years that gave it 17 centers in the greater Los Angeles area and 36 locations nationwide (NY, NJ, PA, CA, AZ, NM).

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