Circle CVI, the cardiovascular (CV) imaging company headquartered in Canada was founded by three physicians and prominent academia in year 2002. Over the past decade, the company pride itself to be the industrial expert in cardiac CT (computed tomography) and cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). 

About five years ago, the company began to see the opportunities brought about by new technologies. They decided to embed artificial intelligence (AI) into their solutions, so that users’ interactions with the systems could be facilitated and their abilities to read and report examinations could take place faster. 

Today, as the market leader for cardiac MRI, cvi42, the company’s signature software provides advanced visualization of imageries and assists clinicians in the detection of abnormalities, tissue properties, and other quantifications for diagnoses. It also kept the patient pathway, from the acquisition of an exam to the actual reading and reporting, to literally minutes. 

AIMed had caught up with Daniel Leite, the Vice President for Global Marketing at Circle, to tell us more about the company’s upcoming plans, their secrets to successfully bring AI into the clinical setting, and the meaning of “crosspollination” of knowledge. 

AIMed: How does the company instil trust among users and successfully bring its AI-driven solution into the clinical setting? 

Leite: We have two major channels to approach potential users. One of which, obviously, is direct channel; which means commercialize the solution directly to the hospitals. In the UK, we mostly tend for the NHS (National Health Service) while in the USA, we support Mayo Clinic, amongst others. The other is through strategic partnerships. We have engaged GE Healthcare and Siemens to deliver our technology and have them seemingly integrated in their in-house solutions.  

In terms of trust, I will like to put it this way. I always tell my clients, we are producing intelligent solutions but the most intelligent piece is found between the seat and the keyboard. As much as we value technology, we rely on humans. As such, it makes sense to be critical towards AI, because they will not replace humans, nor the experts who have been receiving years after years of training in reading and reporting examinations. 

The main aim here is to make our lives easier. 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, detecting patterns that are not necessarily visible to human beings. Thus, combining AI with human, hopefully, will optimize patient care. 

Daniel Leite, the Vice President for Global Marketing at Circle

AIMed: What are some of the other challenges the company faced while introducing AI-driven tools? 

Leite: I think moving beyond the buzz and hypes of AI is a challenge. For me, AI is a tool and not only in medicine and healthcare, many other industries like FinTech, oil and gas are also tapping into AI to improve their efficiencies. Just like in the early days of mobile phones, when everyone was talking about it and nowadays, we kind of take it for granted. I believe AI will walk a similar path too. 

Of course, AI has a number of promising implications but from a user’s perspective, they often care most about results. So, getting the clients to see that AI can be the tool leading to a desirable result and divert their attention from what the industry expects of AI, is challenging. 

AIMed: What are some of the upcoming plans for the company? 

Leite: We have just launched cvi42 Version 5.11 in the last week of October. It comes with a quantitative perfusion tool to access the myocardium which is going to be the first commercial product ever marketed in the area of cardiac MRI. 

Perfusion or the passage of fluid flowing through the myocardial circulatory system, historically, has always been qualitative. Clinicians will look at the moving images and the heart contraction to determine the perfusion of a myocardium, true quantification has always been regarded as the “holy grail” of myocardial perfusion. 

I think the disruption here is, on top of providing qualitative assessments, we are also including the quantification part to better diagnose the patients and come up with better patient management plans. 

AIMed: Going back to yourself, you have a very diverse academic background, how does that help you in understanding the benefits of technology in healthcare? 

Leite: Indeed, I was trained as a radiographer and worked in several public and private institutions before I took up computer engineering and moved into the industry as a consultant and eventually delved in the business mindset. Personally, I called this “crosspollination of knowledge”. I believe having people that understand both the clinical and technological aspects of a healthcare solution or to solve a clinical need with technology, is valuable to any organization. So, that’s perhaps why I took up such career pathway. 

Besides, I think sometimes needs also drive one’s career pathway. Often, we try to think ahead but along the way, we may realize the path we had envisioned does not necessarily materialize but a better pathway will come through. Like a song which says, “you cannot always get what you want but you get what you need”. That’s often life. 

Nevertheless, as much as needs go, we cannot forgo passion too. If one is doing something that he/she is really passionate about and really like to do, he/she is likely to attract people around you that have the same, if not, similar vision, and then things will just materialize by themselves. 

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Hazel Tang

A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.