Caption Health taps new CEO as it eyes expansion of its AI ultrasound tech

Caption Health guidance
Caption Health aims to expand the reach of its technology into lung scans, with additional backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Caption Health)

After nabbing $53 million last year plus a host of FDA clearances for its artificial-intelligence-based ultrasound coaching technology, Caption Health has tapped a new chief to shepherd it toward new clinical settings and uses.

The Fierce 15 winner brought on telehealth veteran Steve Cashman to be president and CEO, effective immediately. He will replace co-founder Charles Cadieu, who plans to pursue new endeavors, according to the company.

Cashman previously served as chief commercial officer at InTouch Health, which was subsumed by Teladoc in one of the largest medtech acquisitions of the last year in a $600 million deal.

There, he helped oversee a global expansion of enterprise platforms designed for hospitals, including wheeled and robotic video-equipped carts for remote patient exams. The thread connecting InTouch to Caption is simple: Both aim to provide specialist-level care where specialists may be hard to come by.

SPECIAL REPORT: The top 10 medtech M&A deals of 2020 | Teladoc acquires InTouch

Caption is using AI toward that goal. Its algorithms walk technicians through cardiac ultrasound scans, a sometimes tricky procedure requiring precise hand movements to produce clear images capable of diagnosing heart disease.

"It's not hard to imagine a future where Caption AI is in the hands of every healthcare professional, from physicians to [advanced practice providers] to nurses, wherever they deliver care,” Cashman said in a statement, describing the company’s goal of making ultrasound assessments as routine as taking blood pressure.

RELATED: To screen COVID-19 patients for heart problems, FDA clears several ultrasound, AI devices from Philips, Eko, Caption Health

The company won its landmark de novo clearance from the FDA in early February, marking the first green light for an AI-guided ultrasound system. That was shortly followed by an upgraded version, cleared by the agency after only 25 days of review during the initial spread of COVID-19.

Cardiac ultrasounds have become an important front-line tool during the pandemic to quickly check for heart complications caused by the coronavirus without employing larger imaging machines, but they typically require years of training.

Now, Caption aims to expand the reach of its technology into lung scans, with additional backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

This includes development of AI to help medical technicians without any previous ultrasound experience use the device to spot the signs of potentially deadly pneumonia, especially among young children in low-resource settings. These ultrasounds can also detect pulmonary edema, effusions and collapsed lungs as well as monitor changes in the health of COVID-19 patients over time.