Behold.AI, a Madison, WI-based startup developing software that flags abnormalities in medical images to help radiologists make diagnostic decisions, said it was acquired by a London-based healthcare entrepreneur.
The buyer was Simon Rasalingham. He founded Medica Group, a U.K. provider of tele-radiology services, in 2003 and sold it in 2013. Now, Rasalingham and others on Behold.AI’s team plan to continue developing the company’s software and persuade radiologists in the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) to begin using the technology.
Rasalingham, who says he managed a team of more than 100 radiologists at Medica Group, believes artificial intelligence offers the potential to make the process of reading scans and making diagnoses more efficient for doctors. If designed and implemented properly, he says, software algorithms could bring some much-needed relief to radiologists in the U.K. and other countries.
“The NHS is under severe budget constraints,” Rasalingham says. “There’s a shortage of radiologists. The workload is going up.”
Rasalingham declined to say how much he paid to acquire Behold.AI, or to disclose other financial terms of the deal.
Peter Wakahiu Njenga and Jeet Raut co-founded Behold.AI in New York in 2015. The following year, they spent three months living in Wisconsin while participating in a Gener8tor startup accelerator program held in the state. After the program, Behold.AI moved its headquarters from New York to Madison, Raut says.
Earlier this year, Behold.AI obtained a CE marking for its first software product, Red Dot, Rasalingham says. That designation gives the company the green light to market Red Dot in the U.K. and other European countries, he says.
Behold.AI has also been working with a consultant in the U.S. to prepare the company’s submission for a 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, Rasalingham says. That would allow it to sell Red Dot in America. If all goes as planned, he says Behold.AI will try to simultaneously “attack the market in Europe and the U.S. market” in 2018 and future years.
A 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. Some industry observers argue that A.I.-powered applications could help clinicians find and diagnose cancer and other conditions more quickly, and reduce human errors.
“There’s a lot of hype around this sector,” Rasalingham says. “The radiology and A.I. space has been around for a number of years, but it’s really unknown to clinicians.”
“In the U.K. and the U.S., the actual application of A.I. is now being seen in a clinical context,” he adds, pointing to the FDA’s decision in January to permit Excel Medical to market an algorithm designed to predict sudden death from respiratory failure or heart attack.
Raut says in an e-mail that he does not plan to remain involved with Behold.AI following the company’s sale. Njenga, meanwhile, plans to stay, Raut says.
Rasalingham says that Behold.AI currently has nine employees. In addition to Rasalingham and Njenga, the startup’s leadership team also includes chief medical officer Tom Naunton Morgan, a radiologist with decades of experience in the NHS, and Rasalingham’s brother, chief operating officer Ruben Rasalingham.