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Mumbai-based AI startup Qure.ai announced that the FDA granted clearance for its head CT scan tool, dubbed qER, that will assist radiologists in triaging patients. The AI-powered platform works by prioritizing crucial and time-sensitive cases within the physician workflow — including cases of intracranial bleeds — in an effort to bring attention to life-threatening cases sooner and decrease the time it normally takes radiologists to open critical scans.
Radiology has been pegged as a prime use case for AI in healthcare for its ability to help providers deliver a more accurate diagnoses by enhancing image quality and identifying hard-to-see fractures. Radiologists must contend with a high volume of imaging data that dramatically increase workloads: On average, they interpret one image every 3-4 seconds during an 8-hour day — and these high workloads often reduce efficacy and efficiency of care, per HealthITAnalytics.
AI-powered prioritization tools like Qure.ai's can offer radiologists some relief by enabling automated detection, which should help health systems better prioritize cases and reduce the amount of time radiologists have to spend sorting through images themselves. For example, Geisinger implemented an AI algorithm in 2018 that reduced time of internal head bleeding diagnosis from 9 hours to 9 minutes — accelerating urgent diagnoses by upward of 96%. Considering that many US physicians were already noting that adopting AI tools would improve their workplace satisfaction prior to the pandemic, we wouldn't be surprised if more providers warmed to these AI tools to leverage their ability to reduce workloads for radiologists and improve patient care.
We've seen AI-focused firms roll out new diagnostic software amid the pandemic — and we think hospitals will prioritize investing in these tools as they have the potential to recoup lost revenue. AI-based startups like Aidoc and Qure.ai both launched software to facilitate coronavirus diagnoses in the last few months — suggesting that the pandemic has paved the way for heightened AI adoption within the radiology space.
The coronavirus has US hospitals bracing for over $200 billion in losses this year due to canceled elected procedures, according to the American Hospital Association. And while these cash-strapped hospitals will likely be more cautious about investments overall, we think they will continue to turn to AI tools that will either help them combat coronavirus cases or help them get back on track with elective procedures. Considering coronavirus cases are surging again in some regions of the US, we expect hospitals will stick with need-to-have AI investments that will boost diagnostics and help drive down costs even after outbreaks subside.
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