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Hackensack Meridian Health is partnering with Etta.io., a Denver-based healthcare technology startup that builds artificial intelligence (AI) applications, to detect bladder tumors difficult to see with the naked eye, even for specialists.

The partnership between New Jersey’ largest health network and the tech startup aims to develop an AI based product/solution utilizing the potential of endoscopic images of the bladder to detect early-stage carcinoma in situ (CIS).

The investment and collaboration are being spearheaded by the health network’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Bear’s Den Innovation Program within the Hackensack Meridian Health Research Institute (HMHRI).

“Hackensack Meridian Health is deeply committed to supporting research and innovation that will help us deliver tomorrow’s cures today,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We will continue to explore possible advances in AI that can save lives and change lives.’’

Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., Hackensack Meridian Health’s president of Academics, Research, and Innovation, who is also a urologist and founding chair of the HMHRI, called the technology promising. “This is the kind of innovative look at improving patient care we want to support, for the benefit of patients,” Dr. Sawczuk said.

Charu Singhal, CEO and founder of Etta.io, said his company is keen on building AI solutions that can be seamlessly delivered into existing clinical workflows at the point of care.

“We’re excited about using AI to do things that can actually augment the intelligence of a specialist,” Singhal said. “We’re looking forward to expanding upon our existing technology to make this use case clinically viable, so we can help serve patients and prevent the suffering from late diagnoses.”

Nitin Yerram, M.D., director of Urologic Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center, will be leading the clinical initiative, a partnership brought together by the innovation team at Hackensack Meridian Health as well as their investment board, Bear’s Den. The exploration of translational research between the hospital and Etta.io entails leveraging the hospital’s data, team, clinical workflow, and expertise resources to build a clinically viable product that can be dispersed amongst other health systems and support urology teams.

“Carcinoma in situ (CIS) tumors of the bladder are one of the most challenging cancers for urologists to manage,” said Dr. Yerram. “CIS tumors have a high rate of recurrence and are traditionally less effective against our standard treatments for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). By using AI technology to help identify and diagnose this difficult cancer, we can expect to advance our field in immeasurable ways.”

HMH is an innovation leader whose Urology Department is ranked No. 1 in New Jersey. Hackensack’s surgeons were the first in the tri-state area to perform minimally invasive robotic bladder surgery and helped pioneer the single-incision approach. The health system is continuously exploring new technology and tools to advance patient care.

Etta.io began as a Dermatology AI and is expanding into other medical specialties. In exploring a partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, the Etta.io team anticipates building and bringing to market a clinically viable and novel CIS identification software that can integrate into any cystoscope in any clinic in the world.

ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH

Hackensack Meridian Health is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with 18 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations, including ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, air medical transportation, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers, physician practice locations, and a fitness and wellness center. With more than 35,000 team members and 7,000 physicians, Hackensack Meridian Health is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy and committed to the health and well-being of communities throughout New Jersey.

ABOUT ETTA.IO:

Etta.io is a healthcare technology company, founded by engineers and physicians, that builds artificial intelligence solutions to help specialists identify tumors and deadly diseases in real-time and at the point of care.