When my co-founder Kilian Koepsell and I set out searching for the problem we wanted to address, there were two criteria: first, we wanted to have a positive impact on the healthcare system by bringing diagnostics further up the care continuum in order to make healthcare more preventative and more accessible. Second, given my background in an area of artificial intelligence called deep learning, we wanted to utilize this technology that had recently revolutionized Silicon Valley.
With these two criteria we identified the perfect match: democratizing the skill required to perform medical ultrasound and creating Caption Health. Before our AI-guided ultrasound technology, Caption AI, doctors needed to master complex hand-eye coordination movements as well as learn how to recognize quality ultrasound images and interpret them; our AI solves this problem. As a result, we empower far more medical providers to acquire and interpret ultrasound exams to benefit their patients.
How has the need for Caption Health evolved during COVID-19?
COVID-19 has a significant cardiovascular impact, increasing the need for cardiac ultrasound—but hospitals do not have enough clinicians with the lengthy, specialized training required to perform the exam. The pandemic is only exacerbating something we already knew to be an issue: timeliness of quality care.
Caption AI has become even more important than before for enabling healthcare providers, regardless of prior ultrasound experience, to perform these critical exams at the point of care. Researchers have already found that cardiac ultrasounds can give a better indication of which COVID-19 patients have a higher risk of dying. Now, frontline care providers can capture images at a patient’s bedside to inform diagnosis and management, without needing to expose a sonographer or use more PPE. For example, one of our clinical partners managing the COVID-19 surge in New York reported that Caption AI impacted patient management in over 70% of cases.
This experience has tested Caption AI in an extremely challenging healthcare setting and these lessons are set to transform healthcare even after the pandemic.
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What can we hope to see from Caption Health in the future?
Our primary goal is expanding access and democratizing healthcare within the walls of the hospital and beyond by going into additional environments, like urgent care, dialysis clinics, and primary care offices where ultrasounds can be a part of routine exams. This benefits both patients and medical professionals, enabling professionals with limited to no ultrasound experience to perform exams for patients that result in timely diagnosis and without the need for additional appointments.
Others agree with our vision, such as Northwestern Medicine—our first commercial partner—and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently recognized Caption Health with a substantial grant to develop AI-guided software for lung ultrasound, intended to help enable early diagnosis of pneumonia among children under five.