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20 Amazing Startups of the Year 2022

Optellum – Leveraging AI-Based Early Lung Cancer Decision Support Software to Help Clinicians Identify and Treat At-Risk Patients


Artificial intelligence (AI) simulates intelligent behavior as well as critical thinking comparable to a human being and can be used to analyze and interpret complex medical data. The application of AI in imaging diagnostics reduces the burden of radiologists and increases the sensitivity of lung cancer screening so that the morbidity and mortality associated with lung cancer can be decreased. Techniques such as deep learning and machine learning allow automatic characterization and classification of nodules with high precision and promise an advanced lung cancer screening method in the future. Even though several combination models with high performance have been proposed, an effectively validated model for routine use still needs to be improvised. Combining the performance of artificial intelligence with a radiologist's expertise offers a successful outcome with higher accuracy. Thus, we can conclude that higher sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of lung cancer screening and classification of nodules is possible through the integration of artificial intelligence and radiology.

Optellum is one such company that was founded so that every lung cancer patient is treated at the earliest possible stage, and cured. The company is redefining early interception of lung disease, by enabling every clinician, in every hospital, to manage their patients in the optimal way. Its first product is the first Clinical Decision Support software for personalized early diagnosis & treatment of lung cancer, based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applied to the world’s largest clinical dataset. The company comprises a team of world-leading medical imaging software, AI, and clinical experts who met at Oxford’s world-renowned computer vision laboratory. The company is backed by an Advisory Board comprising world-leading clinicians (global authors of medical guidelines) and experts in deep learning.

Optellum’s Virtual Nodule Clinic: Helping Clinicians to Make Optimal Clinical Management Decisions

It is designed to solve this problem by enabling pulmonologists to identify and track at-risk patients with suspicious lung nodules and make optimal clinical management decisions for those patients. The software features a clinically-validated Lung Cancer Prediction (LCP) score designed to empower clinicians to more accurately and consistently evaluate lung cancer risk and make more optimal clinical decisions that could save more patient lives. Optellum’s LCP score is powered by the world’s first FDA-cleared imaging AI/”Radiomics”-based digital biomarker for lung cancer. The score is computed from full patterns of 3D pixels in standard images captured by Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, which are already available and the standard of care in every modern hospital.

Physician use of Virtual Nodule Clinic is shown to improve diagnostic accuracy and clinical decision-making. In the clinical study which underpins the FDA clearance, all readers in the study, which included pulmonologists and radiologists of various levels of expertise, from generalists to experts, showed a statistically significant improvement in their accuracy for diagnosing lung nodules when using the Optellum software, with an average improvement of 6.85 Area Under the Curve (AUC) points (p<0.001) and a range of 2.4 to 12.1 AUC points for an individual physician. In this study, AUC measured readers’ average accuracy in correctly classifying nodules as malignant or benign. In addition to improved diagnostic accuracy, use of the Optellum software resulted in more consistency among physicians.

The Valiant Leader at the Helm of Optellum

Jason Pesterfield serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Optellum. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska, Jason has accumulated over 25 year of leadership experience in the MedTech space with a focus on advanced technologies such as surgical power tools, navigation, robotics, miniature digital ultra-sound, artificial intelligence, and virtual presence platforms. He has a track record of developing executable strategies, building talented teams, raising growth capital, and delivering results that create stakeholder value.

Prior to Optellum Jason was the President and CEO of Veran Medical Technologies for eight years where they developed and commercialized the SPiN Thoracic Navigation System, a revolutionary platform to help pulmonologist diagnose lung cancer at the earliest stage possible and improve survival rates. In December 2020 Veran was acquired by Olympus Corporation to advance their lung cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment strategy. Prior to Veran Jason was with Stryker Corporation for 17-years spanning a variety of leadership positions, including Global Vice President and General Manager of the Surgical Navigation business.

“Optellum has gathered the largest real-world dataset of CT scans and, using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, developed a solution to enable clinicians to identify at-risk patients and to guide lung cancer management.”