Frontiers of diagnostics: Booster dose for medtech startups
Indian startups with unique capabilities leverage GE Healthcare’s AI platform Edison X to co-develop modern healthcare solutions
In August last year, GE Healthcare announced its Edison X programme to collaborate with startups in India. In less than a year, the first cohort of startups has graduated amid the Covid-19 crisis with some capabilities that may help in medical imaging. The startups, namely, 5C Network, DeepTek, Orbo, Predible and Synapsica, were selected from over 230 applicants and also get a zero equity grant of $10,000 each.
Edison is an advanced intelligence offering used by GE Healthcare’s internal developers and strategic partners to develop new healthcare applications, services, and AI algorithms. It comprises applications, smart devices, and the Edison platform. “These startups went through multiple rounds of screening and discussions with internal and external mentors in order to evaluate the fit with the programme’s aims and alignment with GE Healthcare’s long-term digital strategy,” says Nalinikanth Gollagunta, managing director, Wipro GE Healthcare, South Asia.
In the cohort, there are three startups working in the field of radiology. DeepTek has been working on integrating its tele-radiology and TB solutions (chest X-Ray analysis) with the Edison platform. Synapsica has developed a solution to analyse spine MRIs and generate preliminary reports with measurements and characterisation of various spinal elements, which is integrated with the Edison platform, while Predible has been working on integrating its lung analysis solution (to detect cancers) with the Edison platform and also developing a structured reporting platform that leverages Edison capabilities.
One of the startups in the cohort— Orbo.ai—was originally a non-healthcare startup. However, its solution for image enhancement finds ready applicability in various medical imaging use-cases. “As we move toward handheld-device based diagnosis, improving image quality prior to analysis will be a game-changer when it comes to making automated diagnosis cheaper and faster. This makes a strong case for integrating such a solution into the offerings from other medical imaging start-ups,” says Gollagunta.
The fifth in the cohort, 5C Network, is involved in co-development with Predible. 5C connects doctors, radiologists, patient, technologist and hospitals through its platform. The two startups collaborated to produce a solution to improve Covid-19 diagnosis using Computer Tomography (CT). “In six months, we were able to convert technical synergies into actual products that we are working with clients to deploy,” says Kalyan Sivasailam, CEO, 5C Network.
Since Covid-19 presents essentially as a viral pneumonia, understanding the extend of spread is critical for better treatment. “Here is where Predible’s LungIQ supports 5C Network greatly. It not only helps the radiologists on 5C’s network to accurately quantify the extent of the disease, but also measures the change in disease with respect to previous images of the same patient. The joint solution was able to scan close to 800 scans (of which almost 50% were positive) with a turnaround time of about 40 minutes which gave a drastic boost to pandemic containment measures,” explains Gollagunta.
Gollagunta says that all the solutions have been integrated to the Edison HealthLink, a localised compute system that analyses data from clinical devices and systems to provide insights to necessary stakeholders in the medical ecosystem. “We are looking to offer our customers those choices by partnering with the startups of Cohort 1 to take these solutions to the market and offer them an opportunity to build scale – adding value for them as well as our customers,” he says.
As Manoj Shinde, CEO, Orbo, says: “GE always knew what they wanted to achieve through this collaboration with us. Startups need not be afraid to align with big corporations. They are as much as agile as we are.”
In the next 2-3 years, GE Healthcare expects to have 20-25 startups as part of this Edison X ecosystem.