GE HealthCare has received more than $44m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted ultrasound auto-assessment tools.

The advanced ultrasound tools will provide healthcare professionals, even those without specialised training or experience, with clinical decision information.

The tools will support effective obstetric and lung screening ultrasound scans across maternal and foetal care, along with paediatric lung health.

In addition, the new imaging tools will expand their access to low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and across diverse sites of care, said GE HealthCare.

GE HealthCare ultrasound president and CEO Roland Rott said: “We are proud and excited to have received this grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to make ultrasound more accessible in low- and middle-income countries.

“Ultrasound is an essential tool for screening and diagnosis of various medical conditions, including the health of expectant mothers and managing respiratory diseases.

“However, a key limitation is the guidance of lesser-skilled users to effectively apply affordable point-of-care ultrasound in their care environment.

“This grant will help bring Caption Health’s leading AI technology customized to more users, and therefore contribute to increased access to higher-quality medical care.”

In February this year, GE HealthCare acquired Caption Health, which develops clinical applications that support early disease detection using AI-powered ultrasound scans.

In 2020, Caption Health received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of advanced AI technology for lung ultrasound.

The US-based medical technology manufacturer will design the AI technology for a range of ultrasound devices and probes, including low-cost handheld devices.

It will use the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop multiple lung ultrasound and obstetric algorithms through clinical validation and regulatory submissions.

GE HealthCare ultrasound chief digital officer and Caption Health general manager Karley Yoder said: “Caption Health AI applications are designed to guide healthcare professionals, step-by-step, during an ultrasound exam to help them capture and interpret high-quality ultrasound images.

“We are thankful for the continued support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which enables us to expand the development of our existing lung ultrasound project and also broaden the reach of this powerful, novel technology to help provide care to mothers and children.”