#447 – The Wire

  • CHNOLA Adds Cleveland Clinic Rads: Children’s Hospital New Orleans announced an interesting new partnership with Cleveland Clinic, allowing CHNOLA to supplement its radiology team with 16 Cleveland Clinic pediatric rads (general, neuro, cardiac). The alliance goes well beyond most telerad deals, as Cleveland Clinic will develop exam protocols, provide consultations, and expand CHNOLA’s overall cardiac MRI capabilities. It also appears to be part of an emerging system-to-system telerad trend, following a similar alliance between Allegheny Health and Penn State Health.
  • UltraSight’s CE Mark: UltraSight announced the European CE Mark approval of its ultrasound AI guidance software, which allows novice clinicians to capture sonographer-level cardiac ultrasound images. This is UltraSight’s first major regulatory clearance, representing a significant milestone for the company and its flagship product. It’s also a sign that echo AI guidance could soon be gaining momentum in Europe, noting that Caption Health’s AI guidance solution gained its CE Mark last month.
  • HCC Recurrence ML: A new AJR study suggests that MRI-based machine learning could be used to predict liver cancer recurrence and improve transplant decision making. The researchers used three ML models to predict recurrence among 120 patients with early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; all transplant-eligible; 36.7% had recurrence). The study’s combined ML model (clinical data + MRI), MRI-only model, and clinical data-only ML model showed enough promise (AUCs: 0.76, 0.76, 0.68) to suggest that future HCC ML approaches could improve the criteria used to determine liver transplant eligibility.
  • RI Medical Imaging Acquires XRA: Radiology practice and imaging center company Rhode Island Medical Imaging (RIMI; 12 locations, ~95 rads) further expanded across its namesake state, completing its acquisition of XRA (6 locations, ~10 rads). RIMI is Rhode Island’s largest private imaging company, helped by at least three acquisitions since 2015 (also: The Imaging Institute and Radiology Associates). 
  • PET’s COVID Heart Insights: A team of Houston Methodist researchers used PET imaging to reveal that prior COVID infection may lead to reduced myocardial flow reserve (MFR) among patients with cardiovascular risk factors. When the researchers compared PET scans from 101 patients previously diagnosed with COVID to 292 control patients (median duration from diagnosis to imaging: 191 days), they found a 20% decrease in the ability of coronary arteries to dilate. They also found that patients with prior infection were twice as likely to have reduced MFR (58% vs. 28%), which the authors state “is a marker for poor prognosis.”
  • Agora’s Seed Funding: Swiss image storage and sharing startup Agora Care scored CHF 1.8M in Seed funding ($1.86M) that it will use to expand its platform across Switzerland. Although the North American image sharing market is already dominated by a mix of major informatics players and well-funded startups (Ambra/Intelerad, PocketHealth, Novarad, Nuance, etc.), recent Seed rounds from Agora Care and Australia’s Aurabox suggest that demand for image sharing is driving the emergence of early-stage startups in other global markets.
  • Trauma ED CT Overuse: A new AJR study highlighted massive CT volume increases from trauma-related emergency department visits. Analysis of 8.4M ED visits between 2011 and 2018 revealed that CT use per 100 trauma ED encounters more than doubled across a variety of exams, including chest CT (4.9 to 13.5), abdominopelvic CT (7.5 to 16.4), and single-encounter thoracoabdominopelvic CT (3.4 to 8.9). The authors called for more research evaluating the benefit of these exams, specially for patients with minor injuries.
  • Health Plan Challenges: HealthEdge’s Voice of the Market Survey of 300 health plan execs found that commercial payors’ top two challenges are now managing costs (46%) and driving operational efficiencies (41%), a dramatic jump from their fourth and fifth positions last year. Although inflation typically impacts healthcare costs later than other sectors due to the multi-year nature of payor-provider contracts, the survey indicates that more health plans are beginning to target this issue by making significant investments in innovation (53%) and improving their engagement strategies (52%).
  • Radiology Practice Leader Burnout: A new study in Clinical Imaging found that 33% of private radiology practice leaders (n=40) report feeling burned out, citing difficulty managing stress as the most common burnout driver. However, 43% of the respondents were professionally fulfilled, which the authors suggest demonstrates an inverse correlation between professional fulfillment and burnout (r = −0.42, p = 0.007). 
  • Carestream Files for Ch. 11: Carestream Health filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, marking a key step in its recent recapitalization agreement, which was created to cut Carestream’s debt and make its top lenders into its new primary owners. Carestream now expects the recapitalization to eliminate $470M in company debt ($250M more than it first announced).
  • Alpha Tau & MIM Software: MIM Software and Alpha Tau Medical expanded their radiation therapy partnership, leading to new product and commercial collaborations. The companies will co-develop new MIM-based software features intended for Alpha Tau’s Alpha DaRT RT systems, bundle MIM’s RT software with the Alpha DaRT in regions where both products are commercially available, and use MIM’s software in all Alpha DaRT clinical trials. MIM’s radiation therapy software suite uses imaging (CT, MRI, ultrasound) to guide clinicians through radiation therapy planning and targeting processes.

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-- The Imaging Wire team