Samsung to integrate Israeli tech in bid to spot strokes

South Korean electronics giant signs 5-year licensing deal with MedyMatch to improve CT imaging for head trauma

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative photo of doctors on their way to an emergency room, on October 31, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of doctors on their way to an emergency room, on October 31, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

MedyMatch Technology Ltd. and the healthcare unit of Samsung Electronics said Wednesday they will collaborate to integrate the Israeli startup’s artificial intelligence software with the South Korean multinational’s medical imaging hardware for emergency use.

The announcement came after MedyMatch said earlier this month it has signed a five-year licensing agreement with IBM Watson Health, which will enable the artificial intelligence heath arm of the US giant to market the Israeli technology together with its other services.

The collaboration with Samsung NeuroLogica Corporation will help clinicians quickly and accurately assess patients in environments in which hospital specialists are not always at hand, the companies said in a statement.

The first area of focus will be strokes, whereby MedyMatch technologies will be integrated into mobile stroke units (MSU), specialized ambulances or other emergency vehicles that are equipped with a Samsung CT (computed tomography) scanner.

The mobile unit with diagnostic CT imaging capabilities is designed to allow a medical team to quickly assess whether a patient is having a brain bleed and whether the stroke is caused by a blood clot or hemorrhage. The assessment will allow caregivers to move quickly down the most appropriate treatment path, potentially even while in transit to the hospital.

MedyMatch's CEO Gene Saragnese. (Courtesy)
MedyMatch’s CEO Gene Saragnese. (Courtesy)

“We are on the threshold of the next evolutionary step in imaging,” said Gene Saragnese, chairman and CEO of MedyMatch, adding that the company’s artificial intelligence applications will enable CTs to provide clinical answers, not just images.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. According to the Center for Disease Control Prevention in the US, close to 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. Most suffer ischemic stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is obstructed by a clot in a blood vessel.

Ischemic stroke can be treated effectively with a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) that, if administered within three hours of the first signs of stroke, dissolves a clot and helps improve blood flow back to the affected part of the brain. Unfortunately, it can often take an hour after a stroke patient arrives in the emergency department to receive treatment because of the time needed to determine which kind of stroke the patient is having.

Picture of Israel's MedyMatch stroke assessment. (Courtesy)
Picture of Israel’s MedyMatch stroke assessment. (Courtesy)

“Technology that can assist the physicians in recognizing brain bleeds more quickly will lead to faster decision-making for the patient and better outcomes,” said Dr. Peter Rasmussen, the medical director of Cleveland Clinic’s Distance Health Program. “Emergency treatment is needed to recognize and treat brain bleeds as quickly as possible and is critical in ensuring minimal damage.”

The MedyMatch algorithm uses sophisticated deep learning, machine vision, patient data and clinical insights to automatically highlight for a physician regions of interest that could indicate the potential presence of cerebral bleeds.

“Samsung is committed to bringing innovative technology to the marketplace to improve patient outcomes,” said Phillip Sullivan, president and CEO of Samsung NeuroLogica. “Our collaboration with MedyMatch is one more step forward in advanced technology to support better treatment of stroke.”

MedyMatch expects to get US Food and Drug Administration and European regulatory approvals by the end of this year for its software. Both Samsung and IBM are positioning themselves to have the technology in place once the approvals are attained.

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