Visionary Approach to Early Cancer Detection with Dr. Kyle Henson of Solis Mammography
Episode Topic: In this episode of Skeleton Crew – The Rad Tech Show, join Dr. Kyle Henson, the Vice President of Imaging and Business Intelligence at Solis Mammography. The central theme revolves around the innovative strides made in breast health over the past 35 years. This episode provides insights into Solis Mammography’s commitment to cutting-edge technology, particularly focusing on the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in breast imaging.
Lessons You’ll Learn: Listeners can glean valuable lessons from Dr. Henson’s discussion on the impact of AI on diagnostic accuracy and early cancer detection. The episode delves into the groundbreaking use of AI to predict the risk of developing breast cancer within the next 12 months and its transformative role in patient care. Additionally, the unique approach of AI screening for heart disease from mammograms is explored, highlighting the potential benefits for overall patient well-being.
About Our Guests: Dr. Kyle Henson, the Vice President of Imaging and Business Intelligence at Solis Mammography, brings a wealth of experience and passion for advancing women’s health through technological innovation. As a key player in Solis Mammography’s journey, Dr. Henson shares valuable insights into the company’s mission, achievements, and the transformative potential of AI in radiology.
Topics Covered: The episode covers a spectrum of topics, ranging from the historical innovations at Solis Mammography to the crucial role of AI in breast health. The discussion unfolds with insights into predictive AI capabilities, impacting patient care and the incorporation of AI in screening for heart disease. Future directions and patient-centric care also emerge as pivotal themes, offering a comprehensive exploration of the evolving landscape of radiography and medical imaging technology.
Our Guest: Dr. Kyle Henson – Bridging communication gaps for optimal imaging excellence
Dr. Kyle Henson, known as PACS Doctor, a seasoned professional renowned for untangling the complexities within healthcare systems and their vendors. With a moniker that reflects expertise, this individual has become a go-to figure in the industry, addressing the common struggle of implementations falling short and being deemed merely “good enough.” In a world where healthcare organizations and their vendors often find themselves pointing fingers, the PACS Doctor stands as a bridge, recognizing that both sides ultimately share the same goal—ensuring excellent patient care. The challenge lies in the communication gap, where vendors present universal plans while hospitals tailor strategies for their specific needs.
Known for transforming chaos into streamlined solutions, the PACS Doctor offers invaluable services to healthcare entities. Whether installing Heartbeat to diagnose and solve imaging problems, providing speaking or training engagements, or offering short-term crisis resolutions, this professional brings a wealth of experience to the table.
The track record speaks volumes, with achievements like launching a process that consistently migrates 1.3 million exams daily, deploying a cloud PACS archive for 85 hospitals in a swift 18 months, and reviving a major at-risk vendor within six months, preventing a 15-year partnership from unraveling.
The PACS Doctor’s expertise extends further, as evidenced by the construction of an imaging system that migrated a staggering 50 million exams and 5 billion images across a vast 70-hospital system to a centralized archive in just four years. With a commitment to breaking down barriers and optimizing healthcare technology, the PACS Doctor emerges as a pivotal figure in revolutionizing the landscape of medical imaging solutions.
Kyle Henson: So where’s the first tool was saying does the patient has cancer today? Yes. No. Well the next tool, this predictive risk is now looking into your future. Based on your images we’re detecting what is your chance of getting breast cancer in the next 12 months. And once we had that, we’ve been able to go back and look at biopsy-proven malignant cases and even see like five years before they’re diagnosed, that risk score increases every single year. So we’re really seeing exciting things. And while it’s a scary thing to tell a patient, I would want my wife to know. They are able to give some lifestyle habits that can actually decrease that risk. Or maybe that patient wants to start coming in every six months. The idea is we are passionate that our patients should have more information about their bodies, more information about their health, and really be in control of their health.
Jennifer Callahan: Welcome to the Skeleton Crew. I’m your host, Jen Callahan, a technologist with 10+ years of experience. In each episode, we will explore the fast-paced, ever-changing suburbs, and the completely crazy field of radiology. We will speak to technologists from all different modalities about their careers and education, the educators and leaders who are shaping the field today, and the business executives whose innovations are paving the future of radiology. This episode is brought to you by xraytechnicianschools.com. If you’re considering a career in X-ray, visit xraytechnicianschools.com. To explore schools and to get honest information on career paths, salaries, and degree options. Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of The Skeleton Crew. I’m your host here, Jen Callahan. And tonight I have a great guest with me, his name is Doctor Kyle Henson. He is the vice president of imaging and business intelligence at the Solis Mammography. Thank you so much for being with me tonight.
Kyle Henson: Oh, thanks for having me, Jen.
Jennifer Callahan: So Doctor Henson is going to talk about a bunch of different stuff in terms of mammography. The conversation is meant for women out there, or even men who are going to be coming in to have a mammo, and then also to for people who are already working in the field of radiology that might be looking to branch out and find another certification and get accreditation into mammography. So we have a bunch of different branches of conversation that we’re going to be doing tonight. First, Doctor Henson, if you could just start us off with maybe like the basis of Solis mammography, where you’re located, and then where we might be able to find you throughout the country?
Kyle Henson: So Solis mammography, we currently have around 106 mammo centers across the country. We’re in a lot of different markets. We’re in Dallas, Houston, Colorado, Tennessee, Arizona, all over the D.C. region, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and North Carolina. So we’re all over the country, and our real focus is delivering top-quality care to women. All we do is mammograms, except for a couple full service centers up in D.C. but that’s our focus is in passion is women’s health. And we want we know, it’s not always comfortable or something that people look forward to. So we want to change that experience and make it the best possible experience. We try to have a retail location so it’s easy to access. We have nice soft colors, and a warm waiting room. We don’t like that standard antiseptic hospital feel. We want it to be a pleasant environment. Our average time from door to door in registration all the way out the door is 24 minutes. So we’re trying to make the best use of our patient’s time. But I think our real passion is innovating technology and using technology to really move women’s health forward. So we pioneered some early technologies with the smart curve paddles. We really embraced and leaned in heavily to AI early, and we’re seeing just some really cool results with AI and some products that we’ll be rolling out here very shortly.
Jennifer Callahan: So obviously, scheduling-wise, I feel like your people who are working in scheduling are smart, and they’re not overbooking the rooms of where the mamas are being done, because obviously a lot of women in the world and breast imaging is so important because of cancer that lots of people are coming out to get mammos. And like many fields that have happened after COVID-19, understaffed or short-staffed, everyone’s trying to get in to have these done. But obviously, you guys must either one be staffed appropriately, or the people who are doing the scheduling are just doing a phenomenal job that the overbooking isn’t occurring, right?
Kyle Henson: We don’t overbook because that would ruin the patient experience. You’ve got your appointment, that’s your appointment, and we want to get you in and out in the best experience possible because that’s all we do. We just focus on one modality, one type of exam, and we’re here to support you. And then we have the screening centers that are screening only. So they don’t even do diagnostics at a lot of our centers. We know what those exams look like. Now the diagnostic exam is going to take a lot longer, not a lot longer, but longer because there are more views. And then there’s that interaction or discussion with the radiologist. So we will book a longer time for those. Again, we don’t want anyone sitting around waiting.
Jennifer Callahan: So you have centers that are doing just the screenings. And then if they need additional imaging or have to come back for something, they’re going to a different center?
Jennifer Callahan: Right, there screening only centers, usually very much retail locations. Our diagnostic centers might be more in a medical office building. It just depends. It’s it’s the mixed bag all over the country.
Jennifer Callahan: So you’re talking about smart care is that in terms of the machines that are being used for the breast imaging?
Kyle Henson: So that was a product that came out a while back. And it was at that time the paddles were all flat. And so we helped create with our one of our partners a curved paddle. So there’s less compression and less discomfort during the exam. Now that’s been replicated and copied by all manufacturers by now. But it was one of those things we were leaning in early too.
Jennifer Callahan: Yeah. And you guys have been around for quite some time now. Like you’re not new on the scene. You’ve been around for what, over 30 years?
Kyle Henson: Yes, over 30 years. So we were started by a female radiologist. We have an all-female call center. So a lot of what we do, not only in the center, but that call center is really key to our operations because we don’t just wait for a patient to call us up and it’s not on the patient. If one of our patients hasn’t scheduled their exam, we’re going to contact them. We’re going to remind them we know they’re busy, so we’re going to make it very easy for them to get scheduled. You can self-schedule online. You can call the contact center. There are a lot of different ways to get on the schedule because it’s just so important for the early detection. We don’t want our patients to skip a year and increase their risk or an adverse reaction if there is an interval cancer.
Jennifer Callahan: So testing on a smartcare. But then you also had mentioned about having AI incorporated in with the imaging and with the radiologists. Can you give us more of a basis of that? Because I feel like AI is just exploding all over the field of radiology. And every time that I feel like I hear, AI, you always think it’s all going to be along the same lines. But every time that I speak to someone about the AI that they’re using, it’s absolutely, completely different. So what you guys are using?
Kyle Henson: Sure, sure. We went all in on AI very early. So this we’re on like year three of e-AI at all of our centers. When the mammogram is acquired it includes a couple of different scores. There’s what’s called a K score which is like overall what is the chances of this, on a scale of 1 to 100, that this patient has cancer. And then each of the lesions that are found in the tissue the lesion itself is outlined. And then there’s a score of how suspicious is this mass or this lesion or this group of microcalcifications. And then those are actually present on the thermoclines. So as the doctors scrolling through the images, they can actually see the lesion outlined and see that number. And please understand our ads are the ones making the final call 100%. It’s meant to give them more information about it. So if they’ve got a very high case score, you might want to look a little bit longer. If it’s a super like almost 0 or, you know, under 10, they can feel more confident in quickly looking at that mammogram and going on to the next one. One of the doctors told me, I don’t even look at it till the very end, and if I was on the border, then I use that score or the machine to help me go one way or the other, whether I want to call the patient back. So it’s an aid to it’s not in any way replacement of.
Jennifer Callahan: The patient is called back, but there’s actually nothing there. Wouldn’t you rather, as that patient have that peace of mind like, oh, they thought it was and they’ve done the proper additional testing or screening and it’s not what they thought? Me, as a patient, I’d rather scary in the moment to hear like, oh, I have to go back for something. But I would think in the long run from the patient side, you’d rather have that double check. Almost. It’s like getting a second opinion. Almost, right?
Kyle Henson: Right. For my mother, my wife, my family. I would want every bit of technology available to them, to the doctor, so the doctor can make the most informed decision. One of the other exciting things we rolled out this year is a one-year risk score. So we’ve all heard about Tyrer, Cuzick and some of the other historical models. We have one of the first models that looks at the breast tissue. So where’s the first tool was saying does the patient have cancer today? Yes or No. Well, the next tool for this predictive risk is now looking into your future. Based on your images we’re detecting what is your chance of getting breast cancer in the next 12 months. So not a nebulous sometime in the future, but in 12 months. And once we had that, we’ve been able to go back and look at biopsy-proven malignant cases and even see like five years before they’re diagnosed, that risk score increases every single year. So we’re really seeing exciting things. And while it’s a scary thing to tell a patient, I would want to know, I’d want my wife to know, then are able to give some lifestyle habits that can actually decrease that risk. Or maybe that patient wants to start coming in every six months. The idea is we are passionate that our patients should have more information about their bodies, more information about their health, and really be in control of their health. It’s a really cool place to be. It’s something we’re very passionate about, and you’ll be hearing a lot from us on these areas.
Jennifer Callahan: Do patients have to opt in to have this type of predictive telling done, or is it something that’s done automatically?
Kyle Henson: The predictive risk is an opt-in scenario, but the doctor’s tools, that is on every case. So that’s just stock to increase our provide better detection.
Jennifer Callahan: Now is that what is called the mammo plus I always have to do my homework before I have guests come on. I was on Solis’s website and I was looking at the one tab said like Mammo plus is that with the predictive?
Kyle Henson: Yes, it is. That’s our predictive risk. So I got one more for you. I’m going to share my screen so you can see it. We have one more thing coming out. And it’s actually going to be rolled out next week. And it’s called breast arterial calcification. So if you think about it breast coronary calcification or plaque in the arteries around the heart is bad and a sign of heart disease. Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that it doesn’t just collect in the coronary arteries. Those calcifications occur in every artery in the body. And it’s long been known radiologists can see that calcification on a mammogram. It’s just no one’s really done anything about it. And I think only 5% of radiologists actually dictate on that. Well, we have an AI tool that we’re rolling out that will actually detect, if you see on my screen it’s outlining that calcification. What we’re saying is that this patient has some calcification of their breast arteries, and maybe they need to talk to their doctor. And what’s so amazing about this technology is we’re now screening for the number 1 and number 2 killer of women. The heart disease is a silent killer because it doesn’t present with symptoms until you have an adverse event or a heart attack. So to be able to offer this to our patients is just something. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be a part of a company that’s developing this out rolling it out to all of our patients, and we really feel we’re going to change women’s health in America for the better. And it’s such a rewarding place to be. I’m so thrilled to be a part of it, even though it’s really neat to be a part of that kind of organization, to making those leaps and bounds for our patients. And it’s such an amazing company to work for because we’re so connected to our patients. It’s not like a hospital where you’re. Diagnosing a broken arm or you see them as an episodic way. We’re saving lives. So far this year, we found 3500 cancers. Think of the families that are impacted to that. It’s insane. And then, of course, with early detection, the treatability is through the roof. If you’re catching a very small cancer early stage one, they’re going to go in and get a lumpectomy and be out and live a normal life. It’s so powerful to really just be in that world that’s so much more rewarding than it was. I’m actually new to Mammo. I’ve only been in mammography for about two years. I’ve always been a PACs vendor. I manage PACs for large organizations, but different being connected to the patient here.
Jennifer Callahan: So let’s switch roles here. We were talking in the beginning about someone who’s a technologist in the field who might be looking to branch out into mammography, and Solis has this pretty nice concept going on that you can come and do your training there and get paid, right?
Kyle Henson: That’s right. We have a program that you can apply for, and it is a Mammal Technologist certification and training program where you’re able to actually come work at our center, get paid, and we will take you all the way through the process. We have a 98% success rate. So 98% of our trainees get their certification first time. And then we’re happy to welcome them into the Solis family. So we’re excited about it. There’s a video on our website with my friend, soon-to-be Doctor Michelle. She’s our Director of Training and Learning. We would love to check it out on our website, and we’d love to see you apply and have you come join us at Solis.
Jennifer Callahan: So is this a newer program that you guys have put into play?
Kyle Henson: I think it was announced last Christmas. In addition to the classes, there’s a kind of mentor guide that be assigned to you to help you through the journey and basically get you into the mammal specialty.
Jennifer Callahan: A question for you, Kyle. Did you help develop some of the AI technology that you guys use at Solis?
Kyle Henson: I have done a lot of de-identification. So as the PAC, my team will take and we will de-identify a lot of data to then work with one of our partners to help train the models. But no, I’m not a data scientist. I didn’t code it. We did train the model with our data.
Jennifer Callahan: I’m sure it’s crazy to see where the company was when it was developed 30 years ago. Like what? Like 1990, almost at this point, Three AI’s 130 years. So there you go. You got one per decade of us, now.
Kyle Henson: We’re partnering with many other companies to help them along, and help build the models. We’ve got a lot of centers, a lot of imaging data, and we want to use that to make the industry better and to make the AI models better and improve patient care. That’s just it’s what we’re all about, that’s why we’re here.
Jennifer Callahan: Have you received feedback from different patients who have used mammoplasty or lesion detection?
Kyle Henson: We get a lot of fan mail from patients who talk about their experience, particularly ones who may have not gotten the news they wanted, but then we help them through that process and we want to see them back. And we get a lot of fan mail, just how much they value the experience, how different it was for them to feel cared for. 80% of our patients come back every year or within 12 to 18 months. The national average is 50% we’re at 80%. We care about our patients and we want to do the best for them. And a lot of that is we make it easy for them to schedule. You don’t just get your annual reminder letter in the mail. We might text you, we might call you, but we’ll make it very easy and fast to get scheduled. But then get in and out because we know our patients are busy. I’m sure, like yourself, you’ve got other things going. And so we want to make this a quick and easy experience and as comfortable as possible.
Jennifer Callahan: And I’m sure their easily accessible locations are huge. Going to a hospital has something like that done can sometimes be so cumbersome.
Kyle Henson: And they’re big. And you might be walking 15 minutes just to try to find the department. And let’s be honest, nobody wants to go to a hospital that makes an even more uncomfortable or scary experience for your manual exam. We want it to be easy, and convenient where you are in and out, and you just don’t get that in the hospital setting. And I’ve worked in hospitals for 20 years. I love working in hospitals, but it’s a different environment. We’re more boutique or retail.
Jennifer Callahan: It’s the whole feeling of warm colors. Like you said, I’m sure that’s a very calm setting. Not that hospitals are chaotic, but sometimes it’s not the most calming experience to go into a hospital.
Kyle Henson: One of the neat things that we’re starting to see is even remote diagnostics. So in today’s world, many times when you get your diagnostic or callback exam, you will have a face-to-face interaction with that radiologist. And that’s great because you get to talk and ask questions and really understand what all is going on. But that face-to-face interaction means that diagnostic centers can only be do diagnostics when the radiologist is present. So what we found at some of our centers is we have a remote radiologist. And what they’re doing is just like we’re talking on the phone or talking in a video chat. They’ll have a video chat, they’ll hand the patient like on iPad, and then the patient can have that same conversation. Now, we’re actually finding our patients prefer that type of interaction. And I’ll tell you why. Just like I did a screen share with you. And I could show you a picture of the tissue and you could actually see the picture and understand what’s going on in our remote diagnostics. We get to do the same thing, so the radiologist can actually bring their mammogram onto the screen and show them a lesion and talk them through their picture, their body. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and it really is in that traditional diagnostic setting. Well, you’re face to face with the doctor. You still can’t see or visualize. What does a lesion mean? That’s a weird terme for a patient. We weren’t sure how, but our patients have just been really raving about that as an enhancement to the diagnostic experience, not a detractor. And then that also means we can offer diagnostic slots at more centers at many more times, making it easier. So you’re not waiting 3/4 days or even a week. If you need to call back, we can get you a call back very quickly because nobody wants to sit on that news for a week waiting for an appointment.
Jennifer Callahan: So we went over everything that has occurred basically in the past three decades with Solis. And so much has been done in the past three decades, and probably more so probably almost the past 15 years, I’m sure is really more like it with those three developments of the eye. Where do you see or can you even share where Solis might be going in the future?
Kyle Henson: We’ve really focused not on opening our own centers, but on partnering with health systems across the country. And mammo departments are oftentimes underfunded. They’re stuck in the corner. It’s a weird little thing that often loses money for a health system, but we found a way that it works. We can make it profitable, that’s all we do. So we’ve gotten pretty good at it. And so a lot of health systems will partner with us, and we will take over operating the memo department as part of a joint venture. So you’ll see us working with instead of trying to compete against the local health systems. You’ll see us coming to South Florida. But really all over the country, we’re expanding really rapidly. There’s a big funnel of new business coming in, and we’re excited to go do the same thing in other markets where we can increase the memo compliance or the rate of women getting their annual mammogram, which means earlier detection, which means better outcomes. And it’s a win for everybody, but mostly the patient. So you will see us in a lot of new markets very soon.
Jennifer Callahan: I did have a final thought or I guess really a question about the Mammo Plus and I know that you had said that this isn’t something that’s automatically included. This is something that the patient would have to request. And I’m assuming it’s probably because it’s insurance-related, which unfortunately, I feel like that’s always the downfall of the health care, that everything always comes down to insurance. Does insurance cover it? What’s going to be my out-of-pocket for that? So am I correct in saying that insurance isn’t quite covering something like this yet?
Kyle Henson: It’s brand new. So no, it’s not insurance covered. It’s something we’re working on to see how quickly we can get it. Because it’s, again, this is the kind of thing that’s going to save lives. And so we want to make it more accessible to everyone.
Jennifer Callahan: So, everybody, I hope that you’ve enjoyed my conversation tonight with Kyle Henson, doing great things with Solis Mammography throughout the country. And keep your eyes and ears peeled that if you’re in the area that they currently are not in, keep your eyes and ears peeled like I said, and hopefully go and receive care there because it seems like it’s an amazing company and an amazing group and lots of great things happening within Solis Mammography. So thank you, Kyle, so much for taking the time with me tonight. I really appreciate it.
Kyle Henson: Thanks, Jen. Thanks for having me and thanks for listening. I hope to see many of you all at work as colleagues in the near future.
Jennifer Callahan: All right, everybody, this is Jen Callahan and Kyle. We’ll talk to you guys later. You’ve been listening to the Skeleton Crew, brought to you by xraytechnicianschools.com. Join us on the next episode to explore the present and the future of the Rad Tech career and the field of radiology.