Whistleblowers charge CEO of NJ firm with inflating AI capability, calling employees “dirty Indians”

Whistleblowers charge CEO of NJ firm with inflating AI capability, calling employees "dirty Indians"

Edward Scott took over as CEO of ElectrifAi in late 2018.
For years, Opera Solutions did business as a data analytics consulting company helping clients both in and out of healthcare. They include the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where the company’s data analytics chops helped them score an operational analytics and fraud surveillance contract.
But financial mismanagement led creditors to come calling and ultimately one of them — a private equity firm based in San Francisco called White Oak Global Advisors — took over the company. In late 2018, Edward Scott, managing director at White Oak, was named CEO of Opera. [His LinkedIn profile has been amended recently to reflect that his tenure at White Oak ended in September.]
From then on, the company has been on a relentless makeover journey to present itself as an artificial intelligence, products company. It even got a new name — ElectrifAi (pronounced electrify). When Covid-19 emerged into the U.S. consciousness, the company began touting a product in the hospital world. But people who call themselves “whistleblowers” and decline to publicly identify their relationship with ElectrifAi say the emperor has no clothes. They allege that ElectriFai (or Opera) has zero clinical experience historically and has never worked with imaging data, which is the very basis for the company’s PulmoAi product. But over the last six months, Scott and ElectrifAi’s senior executives have touted PulmoAi, which has no FDA clearance or approval, saying it can quickly diagnose Covid-19 in emergency rooms and help doctors make decisions about who needs hospitalization and who can be safely sent home.
The whistleblowers believe that PulmoAi and the way that it is being marketed is dangerous to people during a pandemic. Aside from their troubling allegations about the product, the group also claims that Scott’s managerial style has led to clients to stop renewing contracts.  Further, Scott’s racist attitude toward employees of Indian descent and other minorities has left employee morale at a nadir. An employment discrimination lawsuit filed on Aug. 24 corroborates the whistleblowers’ characterization alleging that Scott repeatedly called Indians, “dirty” and those in leadership positions that he fired after taking over as “the Indian Mafia.” 
For their part, the whistleblowers hope for Scott to be replaced by someone more capable, respectful and honest. Through a crisis communications expert with a formidable reputation, the company declared that PulmoAi is legitimate, is being used by unnamed healthcare entities, and is featured in Microsoft Azure’s cloud marketplace. ElectrifAi also denied all charges of racism, discrimination and misogyny as categorically false. 
“Automating early diagnoses of Covid-19”In March, a public relations professional sent an attractive pitch — “Using computer vision, ElectrifAi has created a program that can detect pneumonia-like symptoms through CT scans of the lungs and are now working with hospitals worldwide to collect relevant images to further train the AI and fully automate early diagnoses of Covid-19 which presents similarly.”
Rapid testing wasn’t as yet easily available, so this would be a phenomenal tool to have in ERs. But AI needs a lot of training and tons of data points. Given that Covid-19 was still relatively new, how could they get enough CT-scans to be able to train the data and distinguish it from pneumonia?  The PR person responded by borrowing from a post on the company’s LinkedIn page.
Using ElectrifAi’s “minimal model” technology, they’re able to train an AI with no more than 100 2D annotated images of various cross-sections of the lungs.
Wow again.
The public relations professional was pitching both an interview with Scott and a neuroradiological expert at Catholic Health Services of Long Island, a hospital group in New York. At the time, Catholic Health Services was just about to implement ElectrifAi’s PulmoAi technology meant for X-Rays in emergency rooms — any day now, I was told.
So a few weeks later, MedCity News published this story in early April that attempted to probe Scott’s declarations. In the interview, he provided no details about the technology, named no European hospitals or other overseas hospitals where he said the AI was trained and/or deployed. And Dr. Craig Sherman, service line director of Neuroradiology at Catholic Health Services, while “impressed” by the company’s tool and eager to deploy it imminently,  acknowledged he was a paid consultant of ElectrifAi. As soon as the bureaucratic paperwork could be dealt with, Sherman would be sending over X-Rays to ElectrifAi.
Five months after that interview with Sherman and Scott, it’s not clear whether Catholic Health Services of Long Island actually ever used ElectrifAi’s PulmoAi. After inviting me to connect on LinkedIn once the initial story was published in April, Dr. Sherman recently did not respond to messages. He did not respond to a call either.
Separately, after several weeks of unanswered voicemails and messages to media contacts at the health system, one responded:
Thanks for your inquiry. Please connect with those who you spoke with for your original story. – Greg Sleter, Public Relations & Brand Reputation Manager, Catholic Health Services
Sleter didn’t respond to a follow-up email.

Via Source link