GE HealthCare took a major step towards expanding echo ultrasound exams to new users and settings, acquiring AI guidance startup Caption Health.
GE plans to integrate Caption’s AI guidance technology into its point-of-care ultrasound platform, specifically emphasizing how Caption’s tech will help streamline echo adoption among novice operators and bring heart failure exams into “doctors’ offices, the home, and alternate sites of care.”
- That’s particularly notable given healthcare’s major shift outside of hospital walls, and the continued challenges with sonographer staffing levels.
- That strategy is also helped by the fact that Caption already operates a unique home echo exam and virtual diagnosis service through partnerships with Portamedic and HeartBeat Health.
GE didn’t disclose the tuck-in acquisition’s value, but Caption is relatively large for an imaging AI startup (79 employees on LinkedIn, >$62M raised) and is arguably the most established company in the ultrasound guidance segment (FDA & CE approved, CMS-reimbursed, notable alliances).
However, there’s still a sizable group of startups focusing on making echo exams easier and more accessible, including AI companies developing similar echo image acquisition guidance tools or creating AI solutions that automate echo measurements and reporting.
The acquisition is also another sign that the imaging AI consolidation trend remains in full swing, marking at least the ninth AI startup acquisition since January 2022 and the third so far in 2023. That consolidation has largely steered clear of cardiology-related AI startups before now, but it’s worth noting that this is the second AI guidance startup to be acquired by an ultrasound manufacturer in the last six months.
Echo’s potential expansion to new users and clinical settings could create the kind of growth that most exams only experience once in their lifetime (or never experience), and ease of use will likely dictate how far echo is able to expand. That could make this acquisition particularly significant for GE HealthCare and for echo’s path towards far broader adoption.