New trial may allow CMAs to perform echocardiograms with AI-guided ultrasound

Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and Bay Labs, a medical technology company that applies artificial intelligence (AI) to cardiovascular imaging procedures, announced the start of a new clinical trial aimed at determining if AI can help certified medical assistants (CMAs) perform echocardiograms and detect heart disease in primary care settings, according to a Northwestern Memorial Healthcare press release published Nov. 13.  

The first-of-its-kind study, called “SHAPE: Seeing the Heart with AI Powered Echo," will evaluate Bay Labs' EchoGPS, an AI-powered cardiac ultrasound guidance product, to allow CMAs with no prior scanning experience to perform echocardiograms.

Additionally, the study will test the company’s measurement and interpretation software suite, EchoMD, in detecting certain types of heart disease in patients 65 years and older.  

Overall, SHAPE will determine whether CMAs can use the Bay Labs' EchoGPS to obtain diagnostic quality echocardiograms that, when reviewed by cardiologists and with the help of the EchoMD software suite, will detect more patients with cardiac disease compared to a standard physical examination with an electrocardiogram in a primary care setting. 

"Incorporating our AI software with deep learning technology into clinical practice could allow non-specialist medical professionals to acquire images to support cardiologist interpretation and clinical decision-making and may lead to improved patient outcomes through earlier detection and monitoring,” said Charles Cadieu, co-founder and CEO of Bay Labs.  

SHAPE is a non-randomized study set to enroll 1,200 patients from Northwestern Medicine sites, including Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group primary care clinics, according to the release.  

"Deep learning will have a profound impact on cardiac imaging in the future, and the ability to simplify acquisition will be a tremendous advance to bring echocardiograms to the point-of-care in primary care offices," lead researcher Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and executive director of Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, said in a prepared statement.   

The clinical trial is part of Bay Labs' ongoing partnership with Northwestern Medicine and Northwestern’s $25 million AI initiative, which focuses on using AI technologies to advance the study and treatment of cardiovascular disease.