GE HealthCare has secured a grant of more than $44 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to design AI-enabled applications and tools to help less experienced health professionals in low- and middle-income countries perform ultrasound scans that address fetal and maternal health and respiratory diseases.
Caption Health, founded in 2013 and acquired by GE HealthCare earlier this year, makes AI-enabled ultrasound guidance software and will lead the development of the technology.
The funds will assist Caption Health in creating AI-powered ultrasound algorithms that can run on several ultrasound devices and probes. The tools will provide clinical decision support to help providers read obstetric and lung screening scans for pediatric lung health and maternal and fetal care more efficiently.
“A key limitation is the guidance of lesser-skilled users to effectively apply affordable point-of-care ultrasound in their care environment. This grant will help bring Caption Health’s leading AI technology customized to more users, and therefore contribute to increased access to higher-quality medical care,” Roland Rott, president and CEO of ultrasound at GE HealthCare, said in a statement.
THE LARGER TREND
Caption Health raised $53 million in Series B funding in 2020.
Earlier that year, it received FDA De Novo clearance for its cardiac ultrasound tool, which guides medical professionals through a diagnostic test that normally requires an ultrasound expert.
The company also received a $4.95 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2020 to create AI technology for lung ultrasound technology to enable the diagnosis of pneumonia in low-resource settings.
GE HealthCare’s purchase of Caption Health earlier this year was its second acquisition since debuting as an independent company.
Shortly after its spinoff from GE, the company announced it agreed to purchase French company IMACTIS, which develops computed tomography (CT) interventional guidance technology.
Another company offering ultrasound technology is Butterfly Network, maker of a handheld, smartphone-connected ultrasound system that received FDA 510(k) clearance in April. Its Auto B-line Counter leverages AI to help providers determine if a patient has abnormal lung function by measuring B-lines.
Last year, Butterfly received a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand access to its imaging technology in Sub-Saharan Africa.