- Google’s health division has inked its first commercial agreement to use its mammography AI research model in real-world clinical practice, with the goal of improving breast cancer screening, Google Health announced Monday.
- Google Health has partnered with cancer detection and therapy medtech iCAD on the 5-year deal. Under the agreement, iCAD will work to validate and incorporate Google’s mammography AI — which Google has been building and testing for several years — into its products for use in clinical practices.
- Financial terms of the deal, which Google Health’s head of health AI called an “inflection point” in its mammography work, were not disclosed.
More than two million people are diagnosed with breast cancer globally each year, but a shortage of available specialists can place stress on screening systems, hampering access and accuracy — especially in underserved regions and countries that require double-reading for mammography.
In a blog post on the deal — Google Health’s first with a mammography AI vendor — Google and iCAD argue that linking iCAD’s portfolio of breast imaging tools with Google Health’s mammography AI tech will help radiologists arrive at diagnoses quickly and more accurately.
Under the definitive agreement, Google has licensed its AI technology for breast cancer and personalized risk assessment to iCAD. iCAD will use the tech to improve its 3D and 2D AI algorithms and commercialize developed products, such as clinical decision support for short-term breast cancer risk, the company said in a release.
iCAD’s goal is to bring a product to market by 2024, a Google Health spokesperson told Healthcare Dive. The company will also use Google Cloud’s cloud infrastructure, which should help the medtech expand AI-based tools more quickly into new regions and expand its total addressable market.
More than 7,500 licensed mammography systems worldwide use iCAD’s breast AI technology, making it the most widely used in the world.
In 2020, Google published self-funded research that found its AI technology outperformed radiologists in retrospectively identifying signs of breast cancer. Since then, the tech giant partnered with Northwestern University to study whether its AI can help reduce time to diagnosis for patients undergoing breast cancer screening, and with Imperial College London and other UK hospitals to study integrating the diagnostic AI tool in a clinical setting.
Funding for AI in healthcare has exploded over the past few years, though potential benefits have largely yet to materialize. The technology faces roadblocks for use, including clinician buy-in, regulatory uncertainty and concerns about health equity and bias.
Radiology is one area of promise for AI, as proponents of the tech argue AI systems can analyze data invisible to the human eye, making it a valuable diagnostic tool.
This agreement is not exclusive and does not prevent Google from licensing its AI to other partners.
Google disbanded its health unit last year in an effort to organize its healthcare initiatives into specific divisions. Since then, the Mountain View, California-based company has launched a number of healthcare projects, including medical image interoperability, personal health records, running EHR workflows in the cloud and search tools for provider appointments and patient data.