Volpara Health Technologies, a global health technology software leader providing an integrated platform for personalized breast care, has announced a new research and development agreement with Microsoft to accelerate the creation of a solution that detects and quantifies breast arterial calcifications (BAC).
The collaboration shows a commitment to improving women’s health through science and innovation. The solution will build upon Volpara’s approach to quantitative and objective breast density scoring using artificial intelligence (AI). Capitalizing upon Volpara’s recent BAC patent, the solution will create a tissue composition map that identifies and quantifies BAC from a mammogram, helping radiologists identify the need to take steps toward prevention of heart disease. Integrating Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, part of the Azure AI platform, will help improve Volpara’s BAC model and data processing.
This project is an expansion of the companies’ relationship over the last decade. Last year, Volpara’s innovative work in supporting healthcare providers was recognized with its SaaS (Software as a Service) Award win at the Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards. Microsoft SaaS and cloud products have played a fundamental role in supporting Volpara’s development of the latest, FDA-cleared version of their core AI algorithm. To date, the algorithm has been used to assess the breast composition of more than 14.5M women through Volpara’s analysis of over 67M mammography and tomosynthesis images. These images, representing one of the world’s largest de-identified image datasets, will prove a pivotal resource for the BAC project.
The BAC product, as a cardiac decision-support tool for radiologists, would mark Volpara’s entrance into a new area of care, part of a US$146.4B2 cardiovascular disease market. With access to over 35 percent of the US breast screening market, Volpara has the installation base to facilitate rollout and adoption of the product, creating a new revenue stream. For women, the BAC product would add a new dimension to their regular breast screenings, providing important information about their cardiovascular health. Any significant BAC findings could be delivered through the Volpara® Breast Health Platform™ directly to the healthcare provider or through Volpara’s partner network.
Recently, Volpara announced Teri Thomas as the new Chief Executive Officer, with cofounder and former CEO Ralph Highnam, PhD, transitioning to Chief Science and Innovation Officer. As part of his new role, Highnam will spearhead the BAC initiative.
Of the joint project Highnam said: “The trusted relationship we have built with Microsoft over the years is important to Volpara’s future, especially our utilization of Azure for machine learning and product development. Our mission and vision around the future of healthcare align well with Microsoft’s. Though we are in the early stages of BAC product development, this collaboration will accelerate our efforts as we advance science together.”
“Early detection of heart disease can have lifesaving implications. With early knowledge, patients can work with their physician to stop or slow progression,” said Tom McGuinness, corporate vice president, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences, Microsoft. “Integrating Azure Machine Learning as a service with Volpara’s solution allows providers to connect data and look for meaningful signals through predictive analytics. Through this technology, physicians can identify cardiac risk in patients who may not be aware that they’re at higher risk, empowering them and their provider to take proactive steps towards their health.”