Local health sciences company Gestalt Diagnostics says it has achieved a significant milestone by using artificial intelligence and digital pathology to improve patient care.
BioReference Laboratories, an OPKO Health company that serves more than 19 million patients per year, has adopted Gestalt Diagnostics’ digital pathology platform in combination with an algorithm developed by Germany-based MindPeak to detect and quantify breast cancer cells.
BioReference, one of the largest laboratories in the U.S. that provides testing and clinical diagnostic services to physicians and hospitals, is using Gestalt and Mindpeaks’ AI-based platform at its campus in Elmwood Park, New Jersey.
“(BioReference) is first lab to use AI in our platform for diagnostic work and the first one clinically to do that in the U.S.,” Gestalt Diagnostics CEO Dan Roark said. “It’s a huge milestone for the industry and an exciting one for us.”
MindPeak’s analysis tool BreastIHC is integrated into Gestalt’s PathFlow, a digital image management system platform developed to replace microscopes and glass slides, allowing doctors to quickly identify cancerous cells and predict disease progression.
BreastIHC enables pathology laboratories to instantly detect, classify and quantify breast cancer cells. An advantage is its ability to differentiate between tumorous and nontumorous cells, according to MindPeak.
“With our partnership, we provide results seamlessly in our platform within seconds,” Roark said.
Mindpeak, founded by Felix Faber and Tobias Lang, has been developing image analysis software for pathologists based on artificial intelligence since 2018.
“The offering provides our partner pathologists and hospitals a means to maintain work at their location and interpretive control of a case without the burden expense of overhead for their own (immunohistochemistry) and image analysis,” Ellen Beausang, senior vice president of advanced diagnostics at BioReference Laboratories, said in an email.
“The market is evolving towards this type of technology,” Beausang continued. “There are a few companies in this space and BioReference made the business decision to go with Gestalt’s product as it fit our needs as well as offers a forward thinking and progressive model.”
BioReference Laboratories adopted Gestalt’s PathFlow platform in March for its pathology business. Under the agreement, Gestalt partnered with MindPeak and Germany-based Leica Biosystems – which provides whole slide imaging scanners – to further develop technology to support BioReference Laboratories’ shift to digital pathology.
BioReference Laboratories, which focuses on genetics, oncology, urology, women’s health and clinical diagnostics, operates 11 laboratories nationwide and is a preferred provider for UnitedHealthcare, according to its website.
Gestalt Diagnostics, headquartered at 850 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., builds cloud-based software that replaces microscopes, paper and manual workflows in pathology laboratories for disease diagnosis.
Roark, an angel investor and serial entrepreneur, launched Gestalt Diagnostics with Jon Copeland in 2015 as a joint venture with information technology company Nuvodia, a subsidiary of Inland Imaging, or Spokane.
In 2018, Gestalt acquired Peak Medical to expand its digital pathology integration division.
The company has raised more than $6 million in investments since 2017 from angel and venture capital funds.
Gestalt obtained a $2 million seed round of funding last year with investments from KickStart Funds, the Morningstar Foundation, Inland Imaging Investments, Tacoma Venture Fund and Cowles Ventures, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.
Gestalt’s PathFlow platform integrates into hospital and laboratory information systems to streamline doctors’ patient case workflow. The cloud-based platform allows pathologists to instantly collaborate on patients’ treatment options via video, in addition to recording annotations on cells.
PathFlow and machine learning frees pathologists from tedious, repetitive tasks such as quantification of cells or biomarkers and allows them to focus on tasks where their human expertise is indispensable, according to Gestalt Diagnostics.
“What Gestalt (Diagnostics) has done is part of this new, exciting trend in pathology of using more AI and digital pathology in practice,” said Nicholas Reder, clinical instructor at UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. “An important point is they are working with a very large lab that has deployed an AI-based digital pathology algorithm in routine clinical practice, and this is something that hasn’t been commonplace in pathology.”
While Reder said he’s unsure whether Gestalt and MindPeak are the first companies in the country to deploy an AI-based digital pathology platform in clinical practice, it’s one of the larger-scale rollouts of that type of technology in “a very analog industry.”
Gestalt’s use of AI in pathology “makes a lot of sense” because computers excel in counting cells and quantifying objects, Reder said.
“They picked an application really suited for AI and are deploying it at scale. That’s a hard thing to do,” Reder said. “I think it’s impressive and they should be applauded for that.”
Roark, of Gestalt, said the company in the past year has garnered interest in its platform at virtual events and industry conferences held in Las Vegas, London and San Antonio, Texas.
“We’re excited because we are getting adoption of our platform not just in the U.S. – we have several customers outside of the U.S. that are looking to adopt our solution,” Roark said.
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