Helping non-specialists deliver echocardiograms in any setting
Today, Caption Health announced a $53m Series B round of financing led by DCVC. We’re proud to double down on our existing commitment to this company, which is emblematic of our Deep Tech thesis: by combining the latest advances in science and technology with unique compute and algorithmic advantage, Deep Tech entrepreneurs can pragmatically and cost-effectively tackle previously unsolvable problems in nearly every industry, especially those that haven’t seen major progress in decades. For Caption Health, that means transforming a complex medical procedure into something straightforward and accessible to a wide range of caregivers, enhancing the quality of care at the point it’s needed.
It is now well-known that more than half of COVID-19 patients have heart damage from the disease. The pandemic exposed a massive challenge facing the healthcare industry – much of the technology being used requires a special technician with a unique skill set and cannot be used at the point of care where it is needed most. Ultrasound technology, which is an essential diagnostic tool for evaluating human organ function, requires rigorous training, limiting its use. Specialists need to master subtle, non-intuitive movements in order to capture, for example, heart valve leaflet movements or the size of ventricles. What may seem straightforward thanks to the many sonograms we see on TV shows is actually incredibly complex.
Even without a pandemic, that’s a problem – an acutely ill patient waits in the ER for a specialist to become available or has to reschedule an ultrasound because the initial scan couldn’t be read by the physician. But during this pandemic, it’s exposing additional personnel to the virus, taxing PPE supplies and delaying care when time is at its most critical.
Caption Health has spent years working to address this gap to transform ultrasound from a procedure requiring rigorous training into one nearly as routine as taking your blood pressure – groundbreaking for healthcare providers. After years of sophisticated machine learning product development, and a first-in-class clinical study which resulted in a landmark FDA approval, Caption has launched a software platform that allows healthcare providers without specialized training to capture diagnostic quality images and automatically quantify key measures of organ function. Caption AI provides turn-by-turn directions and over 90 types of real-time feedback – almost like using Waze to direct your morning commute – to get just the right image so that an informed diagnosis can be made. Caption AI then automatically quantifies the most widely used measurement to assess heart function, ejection fraction, allowing for an informed assessment of cardiac function.
As the COVID crisis emerged, healthcare providers quickly identified Caption AI as critical to helping increase the standard and efficiency of care within emergency settings while not putting more personnel at risk. Urgent requests from clinicians at leading hospitals across the country prompted the FDA to accelerate their review of Caption’s second generation product, which was optimized for an even more streamlined user experience. Now, instead of putting an ultrasound technician in expensive and scarce PPE, a nurse in the COVID ward can use Caption AI to acquire images which a physician can then use to make a cardiac assessment.
Caption AI: A Breakthrough for Patient Care Beyond the Pandemic
Despite its utility in this pandemic, Caption AI was not developed only for emergency situations. Caption Health spent so much time creating this sophisticated software to fill a gap that already existed in the market – one in which ultrasound technology has become smaller and more portable, but still not as routine to patient care as taking someone’s blood pressure because it’s difficult to use.
Caption has a tremendous number of applications which are already taking hold as hospitals around the country begin using the products. Assessment of heart function affects a variety of clinical decisions beyond the cardiology department – from the anesthesiologist determining whether an elderly person is at-risk for surgery to the cardio-oncologist deciding whether to administer a chemotherapy with cardiotoxic side effects. And by empowering a broader user base with ultrasound, we envision a world where we can proactively plan for our cardiovascular health rather than reacting to sudden events.
DCVC is proud to invest in Caption Health. With its commitment to technical excellence, rigorous clinical evidence grounded in studies, and a dedication to the needs of caregivers and patients, we believe it is well poised to reshape how care is delivered around the world.