Using Israeli AI firm Ibex technology, Hartford HealthCare launches breast cancer initiative

The Ibex solution promises to greatly impact the care given to breast cancer patients.

Ibex's AI-powered Galen is seen being used to help with a cancer diagnosis. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ibex's AI-powered Galen is seen being used to help with a cancer diagnosis.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Israeli artificial intelligence (AI) cancer diagnostic company Ibex Medical Analytics and Hartford HealthCare, which has more than 400 locations serving more than 17,000 people daily, announced on Monday a clinical research and innovation collaboration to implement Ibex's AI solution to improve breast cancer diagnosis.

The partnership, which involves Ibex's Galen Breast diagnostic algorithm, supports pathologists by providing AI insights that help detect and grade various types of invasive and non-invasive breast cancer. The solution was developed by a team of pathologists, data scientists and software engineers who implemented advanced deep learning technologies and trained algorithms on hundreds of thousands of image samples. 

Breast cancer is the most common malignant disease in women worldwide, with over two million new cases each year. Early and accurate detection is critical for effective treatment and saving women's lives. Hartford HealthCare is among the first health organizations in America to use artificial intelligence technology to help pathologists with cancer diagnosis and to improve patient care. 

Breast cancer illustrative photo. (credit: IBEX MEDICAL ANALYTICS)Breast cancer illustrative photo. (credit: IBEX MEDICAL ANALYTICS)

“Even though patients rarely interact with the pathologists examining their tissue samples, their interpretive expertise greatly affects the care received," according to Dr. Barry Stein, the system’s vice president and chief clinical innovation officer.  

Dr. Srini Mandavilli, chief of pathology and laboratory medicine at Hartford Hospital, added that such technology has the potential to help the microscopic evaluation of cancers traditionally done by pathologists. This could complement the work in a positive way, and be of help particularly at a time when pathologist staffing and recruitment are challenging amid a global increase in cancer cases.

The department has started using digital pathology (digitizing tissue sections on glass slides) with slide scanners, which Mandavilli said allows the material to be evaluated by AI technology. 

Hartford HealthCare pathologists could begin using Galen to examine all cases after they review slides on the microscope, added Dr. Margaret Assad, program director of the selective pathology fellowship at Hartford Hospital.

“This AI assistant provides a higher safety net with minimal, additional effort,” she said.

“We are proud to partner with Hartford HealthCare to support their ongoing digital transformation,” said Joel Duckworth, chief revenue officer at Ibex Medical Analytics. “We are committed to helping all of our customers provide precise, timely and personalized diagnosis to all patients.

"With Ibex’s trusted AI and advanced digital pathology technologies, Hartford HealthCare can empower their pathologists to deliver highly accurate and prompt diagnoses, with the potential to directly impact prognosis for patients, setting a new standard in breast cancer care quality in the United States.” 

The collaboration is the latest part of Hartford HealthCare’s 2020 strategic partnership with the Israeli Innovation Authority to advance solutions that improve access, quality, safety, and patient experience, according to David Whitehead, executive vice president and chief strategy and transformation officer at Hartford.

“In forging this vital connection, Hartford HealthCare took a tremendous step forward in its commitment to collaborate with Israeli companies like Ibex and develop innovative technologies, products and services within the healthcare sector,” Whitehead said.