A year in the life of an AI healthcare company

Dec. 13, 2018

AI diagnostics company IDx spent the first 8 years of its existence operating in stealth mode. But on April 11, 2018, that instantly changed when the company hit the national spotlight after receiving FDA clearance for IDx-DR, an autonomous AI system that detects diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

This marked the first time the FDA has ever cleared an autonomous AI diagnostic system that does not require a physician to interpret the images or results, enabling specialty level diagnostics in primary care. However, this historic clearance is only one of many milestones achieved by IDx in 2018. The company also secured a significant round of venture funding and launched IDx-DR in patient care.

IDx 2018 highlights:

  • IDx-DR is granted a “Breakthrough Device” designation from the FDA—a classification that offers expedited review of technologies that “provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating disease or condition” (February 2018)
  • IDx founder and CEO Dr. Michael Abramoff awarded U.S. Patent No. 9,924,867 for systems that automatically measure cardiovascular health from the retina (March 2018)
  • IDx-DR earned FDA clearance, becoming the first autonomous AI system to be cleared to make an assessment without requiring a physician to interpret the images or results (April 2018)
  • IDx-DR launched at the Diabetes and Endocrinology Center at University of Iowa Health Care (June 2018)
  • Pivotal trial study for IDx-DR FDA clearance published in Nature Digital Medicine (August 2018)
  • IDx closed series A funding from strategic investors, including 8VC and Optum Ventures, the venture arm of UnitedHealth Group (September 2018)
  • IDx signed an exclusive AI partnership agreement with Topcon, an ophthalmic device manufacturers (October 2018)
  • Abramoff testified for the Federal Trade Commission on AI in healthcare (November 2018)
  • Abramoff awarded U.S. Patent No. 10,140,699 which covers AI systems, both medical and non-medical, that use sample training data to detect objects in images (November 2018)
  • IDx more than doubled its staff, growing from 23 employees to 51 in 2018 (December 2018)

IDX has the release

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