GE HealthCare snaps up ultrasound AI maker Caption Health

Just a few weeks after being newly reborn as a standalone public company, GE HealthCare is going through a growth spurt.

Already on its second acquisition deal since leaving the General Electric nest, GE HealthCare is set to add Caption Health’s artificial-intelligence-powered ultrasound guidance technology to its own multibillion-dollar ultrasound portfolio.

Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, according to Thursday’s announcement. Since its founding a decade ago, Caption Health has raised around $60 million in venture funding—including a $53 million series B round in 2020—plus additional grants from the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

GE HealthCare, meanwhile, recently published its first earnings report since going solo and highlighted the solid growth in its ultrasound segment as a major catalyst for the 4% jump in the company’s total annual earnings. For 2022, the ultrasound business brought in more than $3.4 billion in revenues, about 8% higher than the previous year’s haul.

The proposed buyout comes a month after GE HealthCare's first acquisition, which was announced just a few days after the spinout was complete and will see the company scoop up CT imaging tech maker Imactis. 

Caption Health’s AI software walks healthcare workers through the process of securing clear images from cardiac ultrasound exams, even if they’ve never performed or received training for the finicky and very precise procedure. Cardiac ultrasounds are used to diagnose heart failure, a condition that’s often detected well after symptoms first arise—in part because of the lack of trained technicians—delaying the delivery of potentially lifesaving care.

Caption Health’s technology received de novo clearance from the FDA in 2020. In the last year, the former Fierce 15 honoree has secured CE mark clearance to bring its AI to Europe and also launched an at-home service that will ultimately allow mobile technicians to perform echocardiogram exams in the comfort of a patient’s home.

The startup is also working on applying its algorithms to lung ultrasound procedures—work backed by the Gates Foundation grant—and has teamed up with Butterfly Network to bring the AI-powered coaching to portable ultrasound devices, too.

Once under the GE HealthCare umbrella, Caption’s AI will be embedded into the medtech giant’s ultrasound devices. According to Karley Yoder, chief digital officer of GE HealthCare’s ultrasound business, the technology will first be added to its point-of-care and hand-held imaging devices.

Meanwhile, Caption will continue to build up its network of technicians who have been trained to use the AI to provide cardiac ultrasounds in care settings beyond traditional hospitals and, eventually, in patients’ homes.

“Guiding ultrasound users during examinations with the help of AI is of growing importance, especially as we reach a broader set of healthcare professionals. Caption Health’s AI applications help enable reliable, consistent ultrasound examinations to deliver more precise diagnoses, improved treatment decision-making and ultimately improved patient outcomes,” said Roland Rott, president and CEO of GE HealthCare’s ultrasound segment. “This tuck-in acquisition will help expand affordable access to ultrasound imaging to novice users and is aligned with a broader shift to precision care globally.”