Canadian accelerator may help Fayetteville’s CardioWise to scale

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 281 views 

In collaboration with investor Nex Cubed, GE Healthcare recently selected Fayetteville-based digital healthcare company CardioWise for the inaugural Edison Accelerator in Canada.

Executives said that the accelerator could lead to the commercial use of CardioWise’s technology and revenue for the company.

“It’s the breakthrough we’ve been looking for,” CEO Jack Coats said. “We believe they’re excited about the opportunity to have this capability on their website.”

In the accelerator, CardioWise will place its software on the GE Healthcare online marketplace and then present it to GE stakeholders and possibly at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago. CardioWise is one of six digital healthcare companies from five countries in the accelerator focused on using artificial intelligence to augment medical imaging. It started in August and runs through October.

“GE’s Edison Digital Health Platform is designed with a specific focus on hosting applications developed by innovative third parties,” said Paritosh Dhawale, senior vice president and general manager of Edison Digital Health Platform at GE Healthcare. “It comes with a rich set of development tools to build and integrate applications. We are starting to see the use of AI [artificial intelligence] in clinical practice. Our goal is to accelerate this by supporting the most promising innovators and playing an active role in the Canadian health tech ecosystem.”

CardioWise has developed cloud-based software using artificial intelligence to show how well a patient’s heart is functioning or pumping blood. Coats said that the patented software uses an algorithm to analyze cardiac CT scans to provide physicians with quantifiable information on heart function in less than 10 minutes.

“Cardiovascular disease is what we are focused on,” Coats said. “It’s the leading cause of death worldwide. The key to survival for patients is accurate and early detection of their condition and timely intervention and effective follow-up.”

Existing heart tests require physicians to make decisions from images, he said. “That can lead to interpretive errors … or bias.

“The new diagnostic approach is to use quantitative rather than qualitative means to diagnose a condition,” he said. “That’s not to say we, CardioWise, are deciding for the doctor. We’re not. We’re providing better quantitative information and artificial intelligence comparisons to help the doctor make a better decision about care for the patient.”

Jack Coats

While the company is pre-revenue, institutional review boards and academic clinicians have used the technology in clinical trials, including at Johns Hopkins University, where the technology was licensed, and at Emory University and the University of California San Diego, to which the technology’s inventors have transitioned.

Elliot McVeigh, a bioengineering professor at UC San Diego, is one of the inventors who created a regular heart database, and the software compares a patient’s heart to the database. Physicians can use this information to determine whether the heart is functioning correctly.

Coats said the company plans to build other databases to determine whether a patient has a specific heart condition. Also, he looks to expand the application of the technology to evaluate different parts of the heart. Currently, the technology focuses on evaluating the left ventricle, the main heart chamber.

Between 2008 and 2012, McVeigh and Amir Pourmorteza, biomedical engineer, CT physicist and assistant professor at Emory University, developed the technology at Johns Hopkins. They continued to complete clinical work on the technology until 2017. In June 2017, CardioWise licensed the technology from Johns Hopkins.

CardioWise has four employees and multiple contract workers handling software development. The company looks to hire more support staff for the GE program, including radiologic technologists, medical physicists and biomedical engineers.

CardioWise was founded in 2012 by VIC Technology Venture Development in Fayetteville. It’s one of 16 portfolio companies of VIC Tech. In 2021, the company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance to offer its technology commercially.

Calvin Goforth, CEO of VIC Tech, said the accelerator will allow CardioWise to scale on the GE platform without significant investment into sales and marketing. CardioWise’s technology can be used on the platform by any healthcare professional completing a cardiac CT scan with a GE product.

“It’s a huge installed base,” Goforth said. “It provides a way to ramp up sales substantially faster than a ground-up approach …

“GE is only one of a few different sales channel partners, but it’s a very big one. It’s a very big deal for the rapid growth of CardioWise to have been selected to be part of this accelerator.”