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Ultrasound Technology Advances into AI

Ultrasound Technology Advances into AI

Originally developed to detect flaws and damage in ship hulls, ultrasound was first used as a diagnostic tool by an obstetrician in Glasgow in 1956. That same year, the first artificial intelligence (AI) symposium convened at Dartmouth College. It may have taken some time, but these seemingly unrelated developments are finally converging with the first AI-enabled clinical ultrasound technology. Called Caption AI, it’s nothing less than a quantum leap forward in ultrasound equipment. Here, we answer some of the questions surrounding it.

How Does it Work?

Caption AI is a product of medical AI company Caption Health. It’s a subscription-based AI software that combines guidance in real time, automated quality assurance, and also enhanced imaging interpretation when used with compatible ultrasound hardware.

Is It Safe?

In a word, yes. Caption AI was subjected to clinical trials at Minneapolis Heart Institute at Alina Health as well as Northwestern Medicine. Peer-reviewed results are forthcoming, but in the meantime, it’s interesting to note that the users in these trials weren’t even ultrasound technicians; they were registered nurses, and the system was still able to return effective results.

What Are the Benefits of AI in Ultrasound?

Because of its speed and accuracy in image acquisition, Caption AI is expected to be uniquely suited for critical care units and emergency rooms. It’s capable of use in any setting that currently takes advantage of ultrasound, from cardiology to obstetrics. And from triage to diagnostics and treatment, the software should also help both to standardize and to improve patient care as well.

What Does the FDA Say?

Caption AI’s software — including its automated interpretation capabilities — is FDA-cleared for adult patients.

When Will This Be Available?

Caption AI pre-orders are currently open, and the first deliveries to accredited healthcare providers are expected to take place in Q3 2020.

Why AI Matters for Ultrasound

In an editorial that ran in last year’s issue of Health Management, Dr. Ian A. Weissman examined the role of AI in healthcare. Was it help, or hype? Dr. Weissman came down in the former camp, taking note of the tension between value-based and volume-based medicine and noting:

The days of having time to be able to review the patients’ chart, compare old films, speak to the referring physician when necessary, communicate critical findings to the patient in a timely fashion, and be available to answer questions are falling away with the increasing complexity of imaging, and the multifactorial workload challenges.

In other words, AI isn’t just about accuracy; it’s also about time, namely carving enough of it out of one’s day to alleviate some of the stress on key economic performance metrics. Because of the speed, accuracy, and diagnostic assistance it affords, AI has an important role to play in bringing the human element back into the equation for imaging technicians, the doctors with whom they work, and the patients they serve.

At Coastal Medical Imaging, we’re encouraged by any development that increases efficiency while improving patient outcomes. Even at this early date, it’s apparent that Caption AI is a game-changer whose benefits will only grow as it gains traction in daily use. To find out more about this and other healthcare supplies and equipment, contact us today.