While medical imaging technologies have gotten more sophisticated and commonplace over the years, the number of available radiologists or clinicians to read things like CT scans or MRIs haven’t increased accordingly. But tools that leverage machine learning have gotten smarter, and engineers believe they could play a vital role in alleviating the high demands on human medical image interpreters.
That’s the idea behind Israel-based startup AiDoc. Flush with a new $7 million in funding in a round led by Tel Aviv VC firm TLV Partners, the startup is working to take its artificial intelligence-powered medical imaging tool into clinics to help radiologists work through their case load faster. The company has built deep learning algorithms to analyze imaging and clinical data quickly, enabling it to scan for visual abnormalities in medical scans.
“We understood that there was a real hardship in this field,” AiDoc CEO and cofounder Elad Walach told Israeli business news site Globes. “It’s almost unbelievable what is required from a radiologist today. They are like fighter pilots, needing to handle hundreds of patients at the same time.”
The software is not intended to work as a standalone solution, but, rather, to work into radiologist’s workflows to improve efficiency. While AiDoc is still developing their tools – and says they are working on a combination of several technological disciplines including computer vision, deep learning and natural language processing algorithms – they have some competitors in the space.
Zebra Medical Vision, a fellow Israeli company, is addressing a similar pain point with their imaging analytics platform called Profound, which they launched last November to users in Europe, Asia, Latin American and the Pacific Rim. Zebra has spent the last three years building up their platform to become a full-fledged diagnostic tool. Before launching the platform, they started with teaching computers to automatically analyze medical images and diagnose various conditions. They have also released a few APIs they claim can diagnose breast cancer and predict cardiovascular disease.
AiDoc, on the other hand, wants to start with the basics of assisting radiologists and clinicians by giving them the AI tool to spot abnormalities that need the most immediate attention.
“Over the past few years, the amount of CT and MRI exams have increased dramatically, while the amount of radiologists have remained basically the same. This has led to medical image interpretation becoming a severe bottleneck in healthcare today,” Walach told TechCrunch. “We support the radiologists in this process. They are working extremely hard to handle the increasing demands, but there’s a limit to how much you can do with tools that are completely manual.”
AiDoc will use the funding to expand their research and development teams as well as embark on marketing plans for the United States and Israel.
“Advancements in AI by leading technology companies, the open sourcing of AI technology, the decrease in the price of computing power and the availability of digital data has set the scene for significant innovation through AI across several traditional industries”, Rona Segev, cofounding partner of TLV Partners, said in a statement.