The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has granted more than $44m to GE Healthcare to develop user-friendly artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted ultrasound imaging auto-assessment tools.

These tools claim to help healthcare professionals, including those without specialised ultrasound training, perform obstetric and lung screening ultrasound scans more effectively.

The project aims to improve maternal and foetal care and paediatric lung health, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

GE HealthCare ultrasound president and CEO Roland Rott said: “Ultrasound is an essential tool for screening and diagnosis of various medical conditions, including the health of expectant mothers and managing respiratory diseases.

“However, a key limitation is the guidance of lesser-skilled users to effectively apply affordable point-of-care ultrasound in their care environment.

“This grant will help bring Caption Health’s leading AI technology customised to more users, and therefore contribute to increased access to higher-quality medical care.”

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Caption Health, an AI-based medical technology provider purchased by GE HealthCare, will design the technology to run on various ultrasound devices, including lower-cost handheld ones.

It seeks to address maternal and child mortality and improve early diagnosis of pneumonia, identified as the leading cause of child death globally by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The grant will support the development of various ultrasound and obstetric algorithms via clinical validation and regulatory submissions.

Caption Health general manager Karley Yoder said: “Caption Health AI applications are designed to guide healthcare professionals, step-by-step, during an ultrasound exam to help them capture and interpret high-quality ultrasound images.

“We are thankful for the continued support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which enables us to expand the development of our existing lung ultrasound project and also broaden the reach of this powerful, novel technology to help provide care to mothers and children.”