Northwell backs California co.’s bloody good AI tech

AI of the beholder: Rather than relying on their eyes, surgeons can now count on AI to report on critical blood loss during childbirth and other operating-room procedures.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Impressed by what it’s seen so far, Northwell Health is betting heavily on an artificial intelligence-fueled digital-imaging technology that monitors blood loss during surgical procedures.

California-based Gauss Surgical, an AI-driven healthcare technology company, has raised $20 million in a Series C funding round led by the New Hyde Park-based health system and SoftBank Ventures Korea, the global early-stage venture-capital arm of SoftBank Group, a Japanese multinational holding conglomerate.

The funding round – which also includes contributions from the Boston-based LS Polaris Innovation Fund and “seven other leading U.S. health systems,” according to Gauss Surgical – supports Gauss’ Triton platform, which monitors surgical blood loss in real time, on an iPad, using digital-imaging and machine-learning applications.

Specifically, Gauss Surgical said this week, the money will be used to “accelerate the adoption of [the] Triton platform in hospitals and to develop new AI-driven applications for the operating room.”

Triton, which has received de novo approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (meaning it has no existing classification or predicate device), is already in use in hospitals across the United States. Seen as a particularly useful tool for the prevention of maternal deaths and health complications related to childbirth and associated surgeries, the platform is in play in 50 hospitals that “perform more than 200,00 infant deliveries each year,” according to Gauss Surgical.

Doctors have traditionally relied on visual estimates when it comes to surgical blood loss, a “notoriously inaccurate” method of “eyeballing the surgical field,” Gauss Surgical said in a statement.

Enter Triton, which captures rapid scans and uses computer vision and machine learning to “estimate blood loss with significantly higher accuracy and precision,” Gauss added.

Northwell Health happily reports “a real impact in improved quantification of blood loss in our obstetrical patients” based on the Triton’s performance, according to Michael Nimaroff, the health system’s senior vice president of Ob/Gyn services.

Michael Nimaroff: The mother of all priorities.

“[Triton] helps refine our treatment approach to maternal hemorrhage,” Nimaroff noted. “Reducing maternal mortality and morbidity has become a major patient-safety priority at Northwell and at hospitals around the nation.”

The technology emerges at a dark time for preventable maternal deaths and postpartum health complications for mothers. Both “have increased precipitously” in the United States over the last 15 years, according to Gauss Surgical, which cites undetected hemorrhaging, particularly in cesarean deliveries, as the primary culprit.

A new technology that addresses this critical situation – particularly one already performing well in the field – was a sure bet for New York’s largest healthcare provider, according to Eric Feinstein, venture capital manager for Northwell Ventures, Northwell Health’s investment division.

“Gauss’ Triton system sets the standard for the type of innovations we endorse as a strategic investment in technology,” Feinstein said in a statement. “It transforms the way the system works, improves clinical outcomes and provides a clear improvement in ROI because of the reduced downstream cost of care.”

And the potential benefits extend beyond the maternity ward, Feinstein added.

“Gauss’ platform has the potential for an even greater and expanding role in the operating room to transform quality, safety and cost,” the VC manager said.