How Omega is using AI to Reduce Radiation Risk to Doctors and Patients

The below interview first appeared here as part of GrowFL‘s online newsletter from December 2020.

Omega designs and builds solutions for interventional medicine that help meet the Quadruple Aim in healthcare. Omega is the only manufacturer of AI image guided x-ray systems that reduce radiation exposure to patients, doctors, and staff during interventional procedures by up to 84%. In addition to their partnership with a leading robotic catheter ablation company, they have a growing install base at top hospitals worldwide. Omega is an up-and-coming leader in the advancement of safer healthcare solutions.

What was your business journey that led you to Omega?

I’ve worked in the medical imaging space for 22 years and became aware of Omega about 15 years ago. They were a customer of mine and I thought they had some really interesting technology. For about five years after that, I tried to put together deals to acquire the company. My partner and I were able to put one together and we purchased Omega in 2010. The company was founded in 1990, so Omega has a 30-year history, but we’re still really a startup. It’s a new way of looking at our market and delivering innovation to the marketplace.


What kind of value do your products provide your customers?

Our value proposition is to deliver innovation so our customers can deliver better patient care and reduce the radiation risk to the patient, doctor, and even staff in the room. During an x-ray, x-ray comes up through the table the patient is on, hits a sensor which then produces an image doctors can see on the screen. During that process, there is what’s called scatter radiation that shoots everywhere in the room. Anyone standing in the room is receiving that scatter radiation and the closer you are, the more you get. Doctors and their staff are there all day long, every day being exposed to dangerous radiation. Doctors and staff can wear shielding and practice other techniques to reduce the radiation risk, but using AI reduces that by an additional 84%. It does that without doctors having to change any part of their workflow. We’re not requiring that they do something different or go for special training. All these things are making a difference in the background and the doctors and staff can focus on their expertise and delivering better patient care.

Reducing the risk to patients and to the staff pays dividends both in the short term and in the long term. If we can help to reduce the cancer risk by employing technology like this, it impacts and lowers the cost of health care. Why wouldn’t we do it?

How does it work?

We use artificial intelligence to know where the region of interest (ROI) is or where the doctor is focusing. This reduces radiation only to the ROI and then uses what we call high-level image processing to blend it with a full field of view. The doctor can see the box indicating the ROI but also the full field of view they would need for orientation.

We see ourselves as a meaningful disruptive technology company. We don’t just deliver technology for the sake of delivering cool technology. You need to have some true benefit for the doctor, patients or hopefully both. Right now, we’re the only ones in the world to offer this. We’ve been able to find unique innovations and deliver them to the marketplace very quickly and faster than any of the big multinational companies can.

Radiation is cumulative and often a lot of the patients who have procedures done on this type of equipment have a series of radiological studies, or procedures. Anything you can do to reduce radiation is absolutely critical. Then you think about the doctors and the staff who are in there all day long, every day. We’re focused on making it a safer environment for everyone.

When I was a kid, I had to go through a ton of interventional X-ray procedures and then ended up having several instances of skin cancer. I can’t say that the two are directly correlated, but I think every day about the kids being treated and going through similar procedures and how this technology could help them. Anything we can do to reduce the risk for them, we’ll do.

Does your market pose any challenges?

Our space is dominated by the big three. These are big, multinational companies that have been around for a long time. Our space is very conservative, so it’s very difficult for us to break through because everyone seems entrenched with the status quo. But, that’s what motivates us because we truly believe in our technology and we hear what the doctors say about our products. It is a barrier though and every day it’s a quest to get people to think differently. This is so groundbreaking that people will say, there is no way a company our size could have this kind of technology.

We have no doubt that very quickly this will become the standard of care, whether it’s our system or someone else’s system, they’re going to demand an AI image-guided system because of the benefits both to their patients and to their staff.

We’ve developed very close relationships with our doctors. If they call us and have any idea that will help them do their job better or be better for their patients, we’re still able to do it and we’re able to do it quickly. We see programs on a national and on an international basis and some of the very best are right here in Florida. They’re great to work with which is another competitive advantage for us.

What’s the team like at Omega?

I think what you find here is a very passionate, resourceful group that’s focused on our core set of values and what our vision is. Our team comes in every day, focused on how to do that the best they can. Everyone has a we can do it and a let’s get it done attitude. They know that someday it may be our son or daughter or mother on this piece of equipment and we want it to be the very best it can be for them.

What does it mean to you to be a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree?

It’s humbling to be nominated. If you look at the companies that are included in that nomination, they’re all great Florida companies who are doing great things. On the other hand, it’s awesome. It’s a validation of the great work that the team here does every day. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a cocoon and no one really knows what you do. To have GrowFL select us, it’s fantastic.

There’s a lot of people I’d like to thank, certainly my team members who come in every day and do this job. My partner who has believed in our vision and allowed us to go off and do what we need to do. Also, GrowFL and the Manufacturers Association of Central Florida have been a fantastic resource.  It really takes a village to make this thing happen and there’s been a great group of people who have been very supportive along with a ton of other people behind the scenes.

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you have a dream, be ready to work hard. Be tenacious, be resourceful, and stay at it.

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