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Blackford Partner VIDA is transforming lung care through intelligence, using imaging-based AI to uniquely profile and manage the patient with or at-risk of lung diseases. VIDA’s LungPrint solution aims to provide greater precision and personalization across a range of lung diseases including lung cancer, obstructive airway diseases like emphysema and asthma, and interstitial lung disease. VIDA’s software and services are available for clinical use in the USA, EU, Canada and Australia.

We spoke to Marcel Nienhuis, VP of Marketing at VIDA to find out a bit more about the company.

Blackford: What is your mission?

Marcel Nienhuis: We are a clinical AI company focused entirely on lung imaging analysis.  Our mission is to equip care teams with impactful information about their patients that will vastly improve the quality and cost of care.  One of our mantras is “precision healthcare requires precision information.”  As treatment options become more personalized, the analytics to inform those treatment plans must follow suit.

Blackford: And how do you achieve that?

Marcel Nienhuis: We apply a robust set of algorithms to extract over 30 clinically validated imaging biomarkers from a chest CT scan.  We call that set of analysis a “LungPrint,” and from it we present subsets of analyses to meet clinical use cases.  For example, our LungPrint Discovery product, which is available through the Blackford AI platform, aims to empower radiologists with automated precision radiology results relevant to COPD and ILD.  It also provides a patent-pending airway visualization called Hyperion View, which presents a large number of non-overlapping airways in a single image. Radiologists have told us that LungPrint Discovery with Hyperion View has the potential to shave significant time from a chest CT interpretation.

Blackford: How do you deliver clinical value to your customers?

Marcel Nienhuis: Our LungPrint Discovery product brings value in terms of both efficiency and clinical value.

We know that both COPD and ILD are notorious for late diagnosis. In the case of COPD, 40-50% of patients are not diagnosed until hospitalization (source). COPD is a progressive disease with no cure, so an early diagnosis paired with effective management strategies can make a tremendous difference in a patient’s quality of life and cost of care. LungPrint Discovery flags clinically significant areas of both low and high tissue density. Every chest CT that passes through a healthcare system is an opportunity for opportunistic screening of COPD and ILD. It is our hope that these late diagnosis statistics improve.

Radiologists are also empowered to deliver precision radiology results to clinicians.  Instead of qualitatively reporting “moderate emphysema,” they can instead provide a more precise “25% low density, confirmed as emphysema, in the left upper lobe.”  Quantitative results like these are especially helpful when looking at disease progression and measuring the change over time to better inform treatment strategies.

Finally, we know that radiologists are under significant productivity pressure, so anything that adds time to an interpretation isn’t going to work. We’ve designed LungPrint Discovery with the requirement that it must enhance efficiency. Our novel visualization, Hyperion View, helps radiologists to quickly form a global impression of a patient’s scan and can significantly boost efficiency.

Blackford: What sets you apart from everyone else?

Marcel Nienhuis: VIDA has extensive clinical validation of over 30 imaging-based lung biomarkers, with over 200 publications. Our depth and breadth in lung analysis is unmatched.  We’ve been working directly with pulmonary clinicians for many years, so we have a good idea of the type of information they’d find useful in advanced radiology reports.

Blackford: Why partner with Blackford?

Marcel Nienhuis: We are thrilled to be partnering with Blackford because of the elegant integration of AI applications like ours into the radiology PACS workflow. We know radiologists want to see analysis like ours where and when it makes sense, in a way that doesn’t add time to their interpretations. Blackford helps us accomplish those workflow objectives so we can focus our attention in the areas we excel: clinical application and analysis.  We also recognize that Blackford has chosen to be highly selective with its application partners, allowing for a high level of collaboration between the Blackford team and its partners.

Blackford: Tell us a fun fact about your company?

Marcel Nienhuis: The VIDA team loves Pancheros Mexican food. There is a Pancheros restaurant near both the Coralville and Minneapolis VIDA offices, so Pancheros has become the unofficial restaurant of VIDA. All new employees are initiated with a Pancheros visit. You could say we are fuelled by a combination of burritos and a passion for changing the standard of lung care!