If you haven’t at least once in your life had a broken bone or other medical condition requiring an x-ray, MRI or a CT scan, consider yourself as one of the lucky few. If you have, you probably have an idea of how e.g. orthopedics is both a science and art, and how the diagnosis and treatment depended on your physician’s experience and expertise. In the next 5–10 years, artificial intelligence is likely to fundamentally transform the $30+ billion diagnostic imaging market by speeding up the clinical workflows, improving diagnostic quality and enabling personalized treatment. One of the most interesting startups in the driving seat is Disior, a Helsinki-based startup, that specializes in turning CT and MRI images into mathematical models and numerical analysis.
As both the volume and quality of medical images increases with technological advances, so does the need to move from qualitative and manual interpretation towards quantitative and automated diagnostics. IBM has estimated that medical images currently account for at least 90 percent of all medical data, making it the largest healthcare data source and simultaneously impossible to exploit at human scale. New technologies are urgently required to extract and reconstruct the data in a way that reduces human labor, lowers costs, and improves accuracy to benefit patients and physicians alike.
“It’s like closing one eye, and not seeing the whole data set.”
Enter artificial intelligence and Disior. The story of Disior goes way back to Keilaniemi, the famous late headquarters of Nokia, where a group of top R&D engineers studied the mechanical properties and structural integrity of mobile phones. After leaving Nokia, two engineers, one medical doctor and a doctor in biomechanics joined forces to apply decades of experience in advanced engineering and mathematical modelling to revolutionize the medical image analysis needed for diagnosis and treatment.
“Standing at the crossroads of medical and technology, we think a lot about finding the common language with clinicians — to have a profound understanding of what they need, want and see as possible. It takes playfulness and an open mind to build trust that is needed for innovation to happen”, says Anna-Maria Henell, co-founder and CEO of Disior.
To date all commonly used medical imaging solutions produce a set of separate 2D pictures from various angles, leaving the responsibility of compiling the puzzle to the physician. There is always a risk for a diagnostic or treatment error, regardless of the physician’s expertise, due to limited visibility into the structure’s actual composition and three-dimensional movement patterns. As one of the doctors at Disior summarizes: “It’s like closing one eye and not seeing the whole data set.”
Today, Disior focuses on fractures in the wrist, ankle, skull and jaw. The technology also fits for soft tissue analysis, e.g. related to brain structures. The software uses patient’s CT and MRI images as source data and creates a comprehensive data set with diagnostic parameters such as shape, size, angle, volume and distance. The data is then turned into a 3D visualization with possibility to model structural movements, test implant stress and functionality, and to compare pre- and post-operative scenarios. This type of analysis is traditionally conducted manually by an external expert and often takes weeks before the surgery can be scheduled. With Disior, the analysis can be conducted within hours.
“With Maki.vc, we are able to map uncharted terrain of innovation”
Disior is based in Terkko Health Hub in Helsinki, right next to the Meilahti hospital. Skills within the team of 11 range from engineering and technology to medicine and graphics. The team is currently collaborating with medical professionals to validate the technology and to build the first commercial application of the software.
This spring the company picked up speed as Disior announced their 600k€ seed round. Ilkka Kivimäki, partner and co-founder of Maki.vc, has been at it from day one. “Ilkka has a unique ability to bring clarity. No matter how complex the technology or the business, after you speak with him, all your thoughts are a little bit more organized. He’s not just an ideal investor but a great mentor — someone we can map uncharted terrain of innovation with,” says Henell.
Now, Disior is set to realize their mission of enabling data-driven, high-quality diagnostics for as many patients as possible.
Ready for making history with Disior? Let’s!