Providers in China are facing an overload in requests for medical imaging from the country’s 1.3 billion people to the point where numerous imaging centers have resorted to operating on a 24/7 basis.
This burden, however, may soon find some relief in the establishment of a multiyear, multimillion-dollar partnership between KAME, an affiliate of Chinese medical corporation Beijing Century Galaxy Technology Group, and Medic Vision, an Israeli-based software manufacturer and producer of a solution that can cut MR scan time by up to 40 percent.
Named the intelligent Quick MR solution (iQMR), the machine learning assisted iterative image reconstruction software substantially increases SNR and the quality of acquired images to enable the use of short MR protocols, allowing for shorter scan times and greater productivity. Through its agreement with KAME, Medic Vision will deploy 350 of these systems to healthcare centers and diagnostic imaging facilities throughout China.
"The iQMR allows any MR scanner of any OEM and any model to reduce its scanning times by up to 40 percent," Medic Vision CEO Eyal Aharon told HCB News. "Therefore, imaging centers can acquire enhanced images for better diagnostic outcomes, in less time by using shorter protocols, without the need of replacing their existing scanner."
The United States operates approximately 12,000 MR scanners to cater to the needs of 360 million people, averaging a workload of 15-20 scans per day. In comparison, China has approximately 50 percent fewer scanners and holds an average workload of 100 daily scans.
Cleared by the FDA
and officially launched on the imaging scene in 2018, iQMR has gained sizable traction among U.S. imaging centers, reducing scan time on systems ranging from old 0.7T to new 3T scanners.
Enhancing noisy MR images and increasing signal-to-noise ratio, the vendor-neutral system allows for short MR protocols that reduce the need for repeat scanning, improve image quality, promote patient satisfaction and experience, and ensure greater productivity.
Its decrease of repeat scans is especially valuable for cost savings, as evidenced by a 2015 ACR report which found that repeat MR scans due to patient motion cost providers a loss of up to $100,000 in annual revenue.
The implementation of the software, according to Eyal, comes at a time of tremendous growth for the Chinese diagnostic imaging market, which he expects to be larger than any other diagnostic imaging market within the coming decade. Such an innovation, he notes, presents the opportunity for for American and other foreign manufacturers and medical device refurbishers to team up with local partners to access the market and benefit from its growth.
"The diagnostic imaging market in China is undergoing a massive transformation for improving its scanning capacity, its productivity and ultimately its patient experience," he said. "With this great opportunity come the challenges as well, and the main one is to find the right local partner that knows the market, language, culture, like we have with KAME. If you have a product or service that will allow the Chinese diagnostic imaging market to enhance its productivity and increase its scanning capacity, without need of investing tremendous amounts, as would be needed for purchasing a whole lot of new scanners, then the business scope could be vast. It could be anything, such as replacement parts, refurbished machines, or services."
Century Galaxy operates the 350 health centers where the solution will be distributed, and plans to grow its number of facilities to more than 500 over the next few years.