ACC: GE HealthCare brings cardiac AI coaching software to hand-held ultrasound probe

A little more than a year after acquiring the artificial intelligence developer Caption Health, GE HealthCare has brought its cardiac ultrasound coaching programs to its hand-held scanner.

Caption’s AI offers step-by-step guidance to help relatively inexperienced technicians capture diagnostic images of a beating heart in real time—typically a difficult process, which has previously required specialized training.

The software has previously been available on larger, cart-based ultrasound hardware for scheduled echocardiogram exams. But by expanding it to the company’s pocket-sized probe, GE HealthCare said it can now bring those capabilities to the point-of-care.

“The integration of Caption AI with the Vscan Air SL hand-held ultrasound opens an entirely new chapter for cardiac screening,” GE HealthCare’s president and CEO of ultrasound, Roland Rott, said in a statement. “This technology empowers users with guidance and tools for high quality ultrasound scans and supports earlier detection of cardiac disease.” 

Vscan Air SL
The Vscan Air SL (GE HealthCare)

“The strategic acquisition of Caption Health in 2023 continues to expand the capabilities of our products and solidifies our leadership in ultrasound and the emerging artificial intelligence landscape,” Rott added, referring to the company’s $150 million deal for the former Fierce Medtech Fierce 15 winner, one of its earliest purchases after spinning out from the larger GE mothership.

The more-mobile version of Caption’s AI made its debut at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology, being held in Atlanta. The software offers visual cues on how to hold, rotate and angle the ultrasound probe in order to snap the clearest pictures of the heart. It also includes features that automatically calculate ejection fraction, for a quick measurement of the patient’s cardiac efficiency.

These AI approaches previously helped GE HealthCare garner a $44 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to boost their reach into low- and middle-income countries—including through easier-to-deploy handheld hardware—as well as to expand the software’s uses into maternal health and lung screening, such as in helping to catch early cases of pneumonia.