#432 – The Wire

  • Watson Health Becomes Merative: IBM Watson Health’s healthcare data and analytics assets acquired by Francisco Partners earlier this year are now relaunching as Merative. The new standalone company will be led by longtime healthcare exec Gerry McCarthy and is organized into six product families, one of which being Merge Imaging. Francisco Partners revealed plans to “provide Merative with significant resources” that will support new “investment, acquisitions, partnerships, and growth,” suggesting that this will give Merge and the other ex-Watson units the fresh start they probably needed.
  • Screening’s Benefit-to-Harm Shift: A study in the European Journal of Public Health suggests that continued improvements in breast cancer treatments are negatively impacting mammography screening’s benefit-to-harm ratio. Analysis of 10,580 breast cancer deaths between 1986 and 2016 revealed a significant increase in overdiagnoses per prevented death (from 3.2 to 5.4), suggesting that screening’s benefit-to-harm balance will “increasingly tilt towards the harms” in the future at the expense of cost effectiveness.
  • Blackford Adds Us2.ai: Blackford Analysis announced the addition of Us2.ai’s echocardiography reporting solution to the Blackford Platform, giving Us2.ai its first platform partnership and giving Blackford its first echo AI reporting solution. The alliance also continues Us2.ai’s recent momentum following its FDA and CE Mark clearances, Series A, and global commercial launch.
  • Siemens’ Ultrasound Commitment: Siemens Healthineers confirmed that it’s no longer considering selling its ultrasound business, and is now “investing heavily” in ultrasound after repositioning the division late last year. Siemens reportedly evaluated selling its ultrasound business in spring 2021 for roughly $1B, which wasn’t a major surprise given that ultrasound was smaller than Siemens’ other modality units ($420M annual revenue) and is less comprehensive than its main competitors. It’s not confirmed how Siemens’ newly-increased ultrasound investments are being used, but it appears that we might see more ultrasound competition from the OEM going forward.
  • Radiographers’ AI Perceptions: Radiography Journal published a survey of 86 UK-based radiographers, revealing that 62% are confident in how imaging AI models reach their decision and 70% would seek a second opinion if their interpretation conflicted with an AI finding. However, less than 30% felt confident explaining AI decisions to other healthcare professionals or patients/caregivers and 89.5% still aren’t using AI as part of their reporting role. As many of you know, radiographers independently read and report imaging studies in the UK, making their AI use and perspectives especially relevant.
  • Social Responsibility Flop: This year’s Lown Institute Hospital Index for Social Responsibility gave less than 2% of hospitals top marks across health equity, value, and outcome categories. After analyzing hospital performance using information from Medicare claims, CMS hospital cost reports, IRS 990 forms, the non-partisan think tank found that only 66 of 3,600 hospitals achieved an “A” rating in at least three categories.
  • 4D Flow Validation: UK-based researchers published a study validating their four-dimensional flow cardiovascular MRI technology (4D flow CMR), developed in collaboration with Pie Medical Imaging. Researchers assessed 50 patients with suspected heart failure using both echocardiography and 4D flow CMR, finding that the two techniques produced comparable peak E-wave inflow velocity, median A-wave peak velocity, and E/A ratio measurements. 4D flow CMR also demonstrated “excellent” intra/inter-observer reproducibility across all parameters. 
  • Radiobotics’ Fracture AI CE Mark: Danish AI startup Radiobotics announced the CE Mark approval of its RBfracture product (CE MDR class IIa), which detects fractures in X-rays across the entire appendicular skeleton, and was developed in partnership with US telerad giant vRad. RBfracture’s CE Mark approval expands Radiobotics’ portfolio beyond osteoarthritis detection, while continuing a recent surge in AI-based fracture detection approvals (follows AZmed & Gleamer’s FDA clearances).
  • Siemens & OSU Expand Alliance: Siemens Healthineers and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center announced a new five-year strategic alliance, leading to collaborations involving Siemens’ imaging, radiation oncology (via Varian), and vascular intervention (via Corindus) technologies. The strategic alliance will bring Siemens’ technologies into OSU’s forthcoming and current clinical locations, support OSU’s radiation oncology training program, and lead to new oncology care and research collaborations (including a multi-modal AI pathway). Siemens and OSU have a strong history together, and previously co-developed Siemens’ innovative Magnetom Free.Max MRI.
  • inHEART’s FDA Clearance: inHEART Medical received FDA clearance for its new inHEART MODELS software suite. The solution uses CT and MRI images to build an interactive 3D model of a patient’s heart that physicians can reference before and during ventricular tachycardia ablation procedures. With this clearance, inHEART will focus on expanding its commercial footprint in the U.S.
  • Sonio’s Prenatal Ultrasound Funding: French prenatal ultrasound AI startup secured €5M in funding that it will use to enhance its platform, support its FDA clearance and US expansion, and increase its European commercialization efforts. The Sonio platform uses patient info to guide sonographers through the prenatal scan process to ensure exam completeness, and then supports diagnosis by detecting potential abnormalities.

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-- The Imaging Wire team