Large Companies Eye Collaboration as Entry into AI

The partnership between Edwards Lifesciences and Bay Labs continues the trend of larger medtech firms teaming up with companies in the artificial intelligence space to enhance existing devices.

Edwards Lifesciences is delving deeper into the realm of artificial intelligence through a partnership with San Francisco-based Bay Labs. The goal of the collaboration, which has multiple initiatives is to improve the detection of heart disease.

Some of the initiatives include, the development of new AI-powered algorithms in Bay Labs’ EchoMD measurement and interpretation software suite; support for ongoing clinical studies at institutions; and the integration of EchoMD algorithms into Edwards Lifesciences’ CardioCare quality care navigation platform.

Irvine, CA-based Edwards’ CardioCare program combines clinical consulting expertise with a cloud-based platform to facilitate in the identification, referral, and care pathway management of patients with structural heart disease. CardioCare can help hospitals improve quality by reducing variability in echocardiography and ensure effective communication between care settings to ensure patients access to care.

Multiple EchoMD algorithms have been integrated into the CardioCare platform for investigational use to retrospectively analyze echocardiograms. In a release the companies said they believe that by incorporating these and future algorithms into clinical practice could help drive quality improvement and potentially increase accurate heart disease detection.

"Our partnership with Edwards Life Sciences includes multiple initiatives to deploy our artificial intelligence (AI) software with deep learning technology into clinical settings and has the potential to help patients through earlier detection of heart disease," Charles Cadieu, co-founder and CEO of Bay Labs told MD+DI

The partnership is significant for medtech because it shows how comfortable larger companies are becoming with AI-based solutions. It also cements the idea that larger firms are more likely to partner with AI-focused firms to enhance existing technology.

"We do believe that medtech companies are getting more comfortable with AI," Cadieu said. "One reason is that people are getting used to being assisted by AI in their everyday lives with consumer products. AI has also been demonstrated to provide clinical value and assist in clinical workflow. For example, Bay Labs EchoMD AutoEF software fully automates clip selection and calculation of left ventricular ejection fraction (EF). EF is the single most widely used metric of cardiac function and used as the basis for many clinical decisions."

Late last month, Dublin-based Medtronic acquired its long time AI-collaborator Nutrino for an undisclosed sum. Nutrino is focused on AI solutions for nutrition-related services.

The Tel Aviv, Israel based company played a role in recent U.S. product introductions from Medtronic, including the updated iPro2 myLog app used with professional CGM solutions as well as the Sugar.IQdiabetes assistant app used with the Guardian Connect smart CGM system.

In September, Abbott Laboratories partnered with Livongo, a digital health specialist. The Abbott Park, IL-based company would offer its Freetyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitoring system to be used by Livongo’s members when prescribed.

Livongo provides its members with a visual snapshot of their glucose data, known as the Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP), offering a clearer overview of not only glucose levels, but also patterns and trends within those levels, the company said. Members also may request the AGP be shared with their personal physicians.

However, some companies are taking a stab at AI without turning to a company that specializes in the space. Earlier today, Bayer and Merck announced progress on an AI-based software that both are developing. The two companies said FDA granted breakthrough device designation to the chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension AI pattern recognition software.

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