AI Suite Alleviates Clinical Strain Due to COVID-19

The increasing demand for millions of chest X-rays (1.44 billion annually by one estimate) brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is straining the resources of radiology departments around the world.

GE Healthcare's new Thoracic Care Suite, introduced recently in the United Kingdom, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyzes chest X-ray findings and flag abnormalities for radiologists to review, including pneumonia, which may be indicative of COVID-19.

The Thoracic Care Suite is a collection of eight AI algorithms designed to analyze images automatically for the presence of eight abnormal radiologic findings, including suspected tuberculosis and pneumonia findings. Flagged reports in the suite's picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) allow radiologists to quickly find the abnormality score for each of the eight possible abnormalities, an image overlay, and a written location description to help expedite diagnosis and treatment.

"Clinicians are looking for clinically proven methods to help identify symptoms early and determine which patients are at higher risk of complications and need to be actively monitored," explained Professor Fergus Gleeson, consultant radiologist and professor of radiology at the University of Oxford, in a statement. "AI can help identify these distinctions and enable hospital resources to be targeted to those that will need them whilst in hospital and following discharge."

In addition to detecting pneumonia, the Thoracic Care Suite supports detection of tuberculosis, atelectasis, calcification, cardiomegaly, fibrosis, mediastinal widening, lung nodule and pleural effusion detection, the company said.

To provide this technology, GE Healthcare, a global medical technology and digital solutions provider, partnered with Lunit, a South Korean medical AI software company that develops AI-powered analyses of lung diseases via chest X-ray images. The collaboration is one of the first of its kind to bring commercially available AI products from a medical AI startup to an existing X-ray equipment manufacturer.

"The pandemic has proven that data, analytics, AI, and connectivity will only become more central to delivering care," said Kieran Murphy, GE Healthcare president & CEO, in a statement. "This new offering is the latest example of how X-ray and AI can uphold the highest standard of patient care amidst the most modern of disease threats."

The Thoracic Care Suite is available to GE Healthcare's thousands of global fixed, mobile and R&F X-ray customers at point-of-sale, meaning the technology can more quickly be deployed without annual fees. The installation of the technology does not require customers to engage with any enterprise IT projects, helping to lower the barrier for entry in adopting AI.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at