An echocardiogram (“echo”) is an ultrasound of the heart. Echo is a particular type of ultrasound engineered to provide good quality images of the heart, and provides extensive information on heart structure and function including blood flow through heart valves. ECG and echo are the two most commonly performed cardiac diagnostic procedures worldwide, with an estimated 25 million echos performed annually.
The annual cost of echocardiograms is estimated to be over $400 million in Australia, and over $30 billion in the USA. A significant proportion of this cost results from the fully manual nature of echo, which requires manual collection of each data point, and interpretation of every measurement, writing of text comments, and diagnostic conclusions. Because of the complexity of echo measurements and the range of abnormalities that can be identified, echo has never been automated above relatively simple algorithms.
Alerte has entered into a long term collaboration with the National Echo Database Australia (NEDA), which is an Australian research initiative that is creating a single database of echo data from hospitals and clinics around the country. NEDA is overseen by eminent cardiologists and researchers from around Australia, and has developed technology that allows measurement and report data from completed echos from every laboratory to be collected and converted to a single format and into a single database.
Once fully rolled out, NEDA is projected to contain approximately five million echocardiograms. In 2017, NEDA is already the world’s largest repository of echocardiogram information. NEDA has obtained approval to link with the National Deaths Index through the Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare. This will provide linked mortality information for each echo within NEDA.
Alerte has secured a ten year exclusive commercial access to the NEDA Database with the goal of applying its artificial intelligence technology to streamline the process of undertaking and reporting echos. The goal of Alerte’s Echo IQ project is to significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of the echocardiography process and to enable informed future medical intervention to prevent serious adverse cardiac events.