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GE Healthcare gets $44 million grant from Bill & Melinda Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given a grant of $44 million to GE Healthcare to create user-friendly, AI-assisted ultrasound imaging auto-assessment tools.

HQ Team

September 18, 2023: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given a grant of $44 million to GE Healthcare to create user-friendly, AI-assisted ultrasound imaging auto-assessment tools.

The tools will seek to aid healthcare professionals—even those without specialized training or experience with ultrasound.

The professionals will get clinical decision information to support more effective obstetric and lung screening ultrasound scans across maternal and fetal care as well as pediatric lung health.

The goal of the artificial intelligence tools is to expand access to low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC) and across diverse sites of care, according to a statement from GE Healthcare.

Caption Health, a medical AI company was acquired by GE HealthCare in February 2023.

Low-cost handheld devices

It will design this technology to run across a range of ultrasound devices and probes, including lower-cost handheld devices.

“Ultrasound is an essential tool for screening and diagnosis of various medical conditions, including the health of expectant mothers and managing respiratory diseases,” said Roland Rott, President and CEO, Ultrasound, GE HealthCare.

“However, 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.”

In 2020, almost 800 women died every day from preventable causes linked to pregnancy and childbirth, with approximately 95% of all maternal deaths occurring in LMIC.

Early deaths

In 2019, 2.4 million children around the world died in their first month of life. Ultrasound technologies are used in maternal care to determine fetal health markers and conditions like gestational age, fetal presentation, multiple gestation (more than one fetus), fetal viability, umbilical blood flow, and ectopic pregnancy.

For children younger than five years old, pneumonia is the leading cause of death worldwide.

As symptoms of pneumonia develop suddenly, early diagnosis is vital to effective treatment and preventing complications.  

Point-of-care lung ultrasound can provide physicians with a view of the entire lung, is easily repeatable and can diagnose pneumonia with greater accuracy compared with a bedside chest X-ray.

Cleared by FDA

In 2020, Caption Health received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of innovative AI technology for lung ultrasound.

“Caption Health AI applications are designed to guide healthcare professionals, step-by-step, during an ultrasound exam to help them capture and interpret high-quality ultrasound images,” said Karley Yoder, Chief Digital Officer, Ultrasound, GE HealthCare and General Manager, Caption Health.

Currently, Caption Health offers Cardiac Guidance software, which is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, Caption Health will develop multiple lung ultrasound and obstetric algorithms through clinical validation and regulatory submissions.

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