An AI-based 3D brain MRI device that helps diagnose neurodegenerative diseases won national health insurance coverage for the first time in Korea.
Vuno, a medical tech startup, said Thursday that its AI-backed brain quantification device, VUNO Med-DeepBrain, obtained the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service’s approval for reimbursement.
Patients who use VUNO Med-DeepBrain for brain MRI will benefit from health insurance coverage on 3D MRI imaging and reading.
Medical institutions using Vuno’s device can claim 3D brain MRI imaging (HI501) and reading (HJ501) fees, which are about 80,000 won ($63.68) higher than general brain MRI imaging and reading.
VUNO Med-DeepBrain analyzes brain MRI images based on deep learning, executes parcellation into more than 100 brain areas, and provides each area’s quantified degree of atrophy within one minute.
Vuno and Asan Medical Center co-developed VUNO Med-DeepBrain as part of the national project to develop AI precision medicine software Doctor Answer under the Ministry of Science and ICT.
VUNO Med-DeepBrain helps diagnose major degenerative brain diseases such as mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia by sending quantified information on major brain regions such as the cerebral cortex and cerebral white matter high-intensity signals to physicians.
In patients who complain of cognitive dysfunction such as memory impairment, the device checks the level of atrophy in each brain region before the onset of full-scale dementia symptoms. Then, using the device, the doctor can pre-select patients with the possibility of dementia.
With the reimbursement, Vuno plans to carry out aggressive sales and marketing at medical institutions to encourage doctors to use the device in patient care swiftly.
Vuno CEO Lee Ye-ha said VUNO-Med DeepBrain’s winning of reimbursement was meaningful because many patients would enjoy insurance benefits in using the AI-based medical device to diagnose various neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia.
“The product, which was developed with the active government support through the Doctor Answer project, is the first case to win approval in the project and obtain health insurance coverage,” he said.