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An NHS First: Northumbria Healthcare using AI to help detect coronary artery disease

Wednesday, 29 December, 2021
An NHS First: Northumbria Healthcare using AI to help detect coronary artery disease

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is working at the cutting edge of heart disease diagnosis through its partnership with a ground-breaking AI company.

For the first time, patients will have their heart ultrasounds analysed by a patented, automated, artificially intelligent (AI) platform that will help clinicians more accurately detect Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

The Trust, which runs hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside, will use Ultromics’ EchoGo platform to automate traditional analysis, unlocking the potential to rapidly analyse critical measurements for all patients, and ultimately predict CAD – something that is unheard of in the NHS today.

This news comes just weeks after the company’s major new CAD research is published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, Automated Echocardiographic Detection of Severe Coronary Artery Disease Using Artificial Intelligence, showing that EchoGo significantly improved the accuracy and confidence in CAD detection, including increasing sensitivity in CAD detection by more than 10%.

“A complex pathway of symptoms, circumstances and features means that it is not always easy to correctly identify CAD on first visit,” said Dr David Ripley, the Trust’s director of research and development and a consultant cardiologist. “We will be using Ultromics’ AI platform, EchoGo, in our echocardiography exams to analyse CAD patients and detect features that would have been impossible to detect using traditional software. EchoGo has the potential to improve the diagnostic accuracy of predicting coronary artery disease within our Trust.

“Given our involvement as this project has developed, we expect that EchoGo will make a real difference. Decisions will still be made by clinicians, but the interpretation of these cardiac images is subjective, and this will support analysis within our Trust.”

Northumbria Healthcare will also use EchoGo in a head-to-head trial that compares how decisions supported by EchoGo fare against decisions without this tool in analysing patients with the potential of serious coronary artery disease.

“We believe this technology will improve accuracy in diagnosing something that is one of the biggest causes of premature death, particularly here in the North East,” said Dr. Ripley. “It will help to provide the informed care that we strive to provide to all of our patients, ensuring that they can receive timely treatment that meets their needs while supporting longer, healthier lives for those in our communities.”

“We are excited to work with Northumbria in advancing their echo interpretation using AI,” said Dr. Ross Upton, CEO and founder of Ultromics. “EchoGo is proven to provide accurate and precise analysis with zero variability. By standardising the quality of analysis, we can improve the accuracy of coronary artery disease diagnoses.”

The journey of EchoGo began with the EVAREST trial in 2015, to which the Trust recruited a significant number of patients. This EVAREST study is important because it identified echocardiography to be subjective and dependent on operator skill, with an estimated accuracy of approximately 80% for the detection of coronary artery disease. The results of this trial formed the basis for the JACC:CVI paper and supported the validation of the EchoGo technology.

Since then, EchoGo has been rigorously tested and validated, including receiving CE Mark and FDA clearance (approval for use in Europe and the US). Now, with Northumbria Healthcare, EchoGo’s validation has expanded to include hospitals throughout the UK.

This follows the award of a grant by NHSx (the health service’s digital innovation arm) to fast-track the company’s technology across the UK, which was issued as part of the NHS AI in Health and Care Award programme in September 2020, with Northumbria Healthcare acting as a supporting site.

Media contacts

Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer, Northumbria Healthcare

Benjamin.O’ or 07833 046680.

Sarah Jackson, marketing manager, Ultromics or 07725 321363.