Teleradiology: the Lyonnais Imadis is betting on AI to improve the efficiency of the care offer

“We quickly understood the interest of artificial intelligence to improve our service. As soon as technologically mature solutions were proposed, we launched experiments. Result? Today, AI has become one of our strengths of differentiation”displays Alexandre Ben Cheick, co-founder of the Lyon medtech company Imadis.

Created in 2008 by five young radiologists graduated from the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL), Imadis has developed an innovative remote emergency radiology offer. Its model is based on an organization inspired by the SAMU with childcare centres, covering the French territory and in which come to work in teams, doctors radiologists (also liberal or hospital doctors).

With one observation:

“The partner establishments, the emergency services of the hospitals, do not always have the resources, in particular at night, to offer patients an interpretation of the examinations by a radiologist. They can then call on tele-radiology. We receive the exams and can quickly ensure a professional reading, in 16 minutes on average, so that the patient can be treated as quickly as possible”explains Alexandre Ben Cheick.

An offer in line with the strong trend in France of the deployment of telemedicine, ensuring that all patients receive permanent care, regardless of their place of residence.

With one notable difference, however, compared to many players in the sector: the on-call radiologists for Imadis do not carry out their mission from their homes, as is commonly practiced, but within several centers specifically equipped for this activity and within where they work as a team (Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille and, for a few months, Rennes and Saint-Etienne).

Five AI algorithms to detect anomalies

This organization into child care centers thus facilitates the deployment of cutting-edge tools, and in particular artificial intelligence (AI). “A large part of the activity of radiology concerns the detection of anomalies. AI makes it possible to secure and make reliable these detections”observes Alexandre Ben Cheik.

Imadis now relies on five algorithms. She has been working since 2019 with the Israeli Aidoc for the detection of intracranial hemorrhages, pulmonary embolisms, rib fractures and cervical spine fractures during CT and MRI interpretations (90% of Imadis’ activity ) and, for a few months, with the French MedTech Gleamer for the detection of fractures, effusions and dislocations on X-rays “Gleamer’s solution has been in testing since 2020. We are now deploying it more widely”.

Alexandre Ben Cheik nevertheless insists: “There is always a human analysis, nothing is subcontracted entirely to AI. Artificial intelligence does not replace the radiologist, let’s be very clear on this point. On the other hand, it can highlight points that could have escaped the professionals. I compare the internal AI in hospitals, to which the head of department has entrusted a pile of files to check. It may happen that it detects a new anomaly”.

According to an internal study by Aidoc, its algorithms would thus make it possible to rectify the diagnosis in 0.5% of cases for internal bleeding and 1% for pulmonary embolism. “This may seem low in relative value, but with nearly 800 patients cared for every day by Imadis, the gain for the patient is significant”notes the Lyon SME.

“We are also gaining in speed, because the negative predictive value of AI is very strong”continues Alexandre Ben Cheick, noting in passing that the performance of algorithms has improved a lot since his debut in this area in 2018. “The detection spectrum has been broadened and false positives have been significantly reduced”.

80 recruitments to the 2022 program

Imadis relies on a team of 90 employees (support team) and more than 300 radiologists, around a hundred of whom are associated with the capital. 114 joined the Imadis teams in 2021 and 80 should do so during 2022. Imadis childcare centers have interpreted more than a million examinations since the company was created, on behalf of around a hundred customer hospitals (including 40 new ones since the health crisis).

The company achieved a turnover of 18 million euros in 2021 and expects significant growth in 2022, with the opening of two new centers already validated (Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand). The 2022 game plan is thus targeting a turnover of 23 million euros.

In its market, Imadis comes up against competitors such as Télédiag, Nehs Digital and even Medin +, but is already emerging as the French leader in remote emergency radiology.