In Douglas Adams’ classic book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a group of hyper-intelligent beings demanded to learn the answer to life from a supercomputer. It took the machine millions of years to compute but the answer it finally gave was 42. And so, according to the book at least, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything.
For Canada-based cardiovascular imaging company Circle CVI, 42 also has a special meaning. It is the company’s signature software. cvi42 provides advanced visualization of imageries and assists clinicians in the detection of abnormalities, tissue properties, and other quantifications for diagnoses. It keeps the patient pathway, from the acquisition of an exam to the actual reading and reporting, to minutes. “42 doesn’t resonate with the younger millennial audience anymore,” laughs Daniel Leite, Circle CVI’s Vice President for Global Marketing. “But as the book decreed 42 to be the answer to life, the universe and everything, it became the genesis of our brand name.”
Circle CVI was founded by three physicians and prominent academia in 2002. For the next decade, the company was proud to consider itself an industry expert in cardiac CT and MRI. But about six years ago, the founders began to see opportunities brought about by new technologies and so decided to embed AI into their solutions, to facilitate users’ interactions with the systems and accelerate their abilities to read and report examinations.
“The main aim here is to make our lives easier,” says Leite. “Imagine the number of years a human being needs to read 50,000 CV MRI exams, but for AI, especially if big data and training are provided adequately, it will only take a fraction of that amount of time. Besides, AI can read and process beyond human eyes and detect patterns that are not necessarily visible to human beings”.
cvi42 comes with a unique feature – a quantitative perfusion tool to access the myocardium. Historically, perfusion or the passage of fluid flowing through the myocardial circulatory system, has always been qualitative. Clinicians will examine the moving images and heart contractions to determine the perfusion of a myocardium. Quantification of myocardial perfusion has always been regarded as the “holy grail” in cardiac imaging. cvi42 is disrupting the field by providing both qualitative and quantitative assessments of myocardial perfusion. This enables physicians to better diagnose a patient and generate more suitable management plans.
Nonetheless, Leite says cvi42 cannot work on its own. “I always tell my clients, CircleCVI is producing intelligent solutions but the most intelligent piece is found between the seat and the keyboard,” he laughs. “As much as we value technology, we rely on humans. AI will never replace the experts who have received years of training in reading and reporting examinations. We believe, combining AI with humans, is the way to optimize patient care”.
Leite highlights the importance of a “crosspollination of knowledge”. “We need people who can understand both the clinical and technological aspects of a healthcare solution. Anyone who can solve a clinical need with technology, is valuable to any organization”.
Yet it remains a challenge to convince the public that AI can produce desirable results, since the technology is still in its infancy. “It’s just like in the early days of mobile phones,” says Leite. “Everyone was talking about the technology but nowadays we take it for granted. I believe AI will walk a similar path too.
“Of course, AI has many promising implications. So, as much as we are critical of the technology, we should stay optimistic of the future it will lead us to”.