The Financial Times (FT)reporters Aliya Ram and Madhumita Murgia report that shortages of European radiologists are pushing the demand for nascent Artificial Intelligence (AI) software marketplace. Most recently, Kheiron Medical is being deployed by National Health Service (NHS) trust in Leeds to scan many thousands of images to augment efforts to identify breast cancer signs. Other AI systems are being deployed across Europe. For example Google’s Deep Mind is begin used by NHS as well while Dutch ScreenPoint Medical competes in the space as well. FT reports that a severe shortage of radiologists in the UK. The Royal College of Radiologists estimate that UK NHS has spent approximate 116 million pounds on outsourcing scan and related overtime effort during 2016-17—growing by 30 million pounds.
Who is Kheiron Medical? Dr. Peter Kecskemethy and Tobias Rijken founded Kheiron Medical in 2016 with the mission of supporting the work of breast radiologists with machine learning. Kheiron was a benevolent centaur in Greek mythology who is associated with great discoveries in medicine. Centaur also refers to the combination of human brain and computer intelligence. The Kheiron team, based in the UK, includes top experts in technology and radiology—talent that hails from Oxford, Cambridge, University College of London, etc. According to venture intelligence website CrunchBase the startup has already raised over 10 million pounds, including placement from Exor NV, an Agnelli family holding company (Agnelli is family behind Ferrari and other holdings). A scan of LinkedIn evidences approximately 40 employees. A critical early stage deal, they were given a NHS grant late 2018 for a clinical trial centering on use of AI to automate segments of the breast cancer screening process. With the NHS, Kheiron’s AI algorithms will process millions of mammograms. According to an article in The Telegraph, the trial will be in combination with East Midlands Radiology Consortium. In the NHS two radiologists read a mammogram image. In the trial, Kheiron serves as a second reader next to human radiologists. If successful, NHS will be able to undertake more mammogram reviews with less people. Dr. Jonathan James was quoted in article that “I believe Kheiron’s AI technology has the potential to revolutionize the reading of mammograms in the UK and beyond.” Kheiron represents an emerging class of clinical and medical-directed AI applications that will compete for market share in what will become what some analysts predict will go from a few billion to over $36 billion market by 2025. If Kheiron produces compelling results for NHS it will certainly secure other contracts soon.