GE HealthCare is working on AI-powered ultrasounds to combat pediatric and maternal mortality rates

The effort will be backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.

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GE HealthCare says it plans to develop an AI-assisted ultrasound imaging tool that is so simple, that even healthcare providers without specialized training will be able to use it. The research and development will be funded by a $44 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has historically invested in the roll-out of new technologies in resource-poor settings to address gaps in healthcare access.

GE HealthCare says the AI-powered imaging technology has been designed to be dispersed to low-and-middle income countries where the services of healthcare providers may be stretched thin. The assessment tools will be more effective at providing clear readings of lung and ultrasound scans across maternal and fetal care as well as pediatric lung health — and will be compatible with a number of inexpensive ultrasound devices. These areas of medicine are particularly notable because maternal and child mortality is mostly preventable if medical intervention occurs early. Proper medical imaging is key to achieving timely diagnosis, guides treatment decisions and can improve treatment outcomes.

GE HealthCare $3 billion ultrasound business, has recently focused on the development pipeline of AI software with the acquisition of med tech companies like Caption Health, which will help design this particular tool. The company appears committed to a strategy of increasing spending on AI-related projects both now and in the near future.

Correction, Sept. 19th, 2023, 9:24AM ET: A prior version of this story conflated the intended goal (AI-assisted imaging tools) with its application (ultrasound devices themselves), and referred to the independent GE HealthCare unit as simply GE.