Volpara Health, a maker of artificial intelligence breast-cancer-screening products, has acquired CRA Health, a breast cancer risk-assessment startup out of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Under the terms of the deal, Volpara will purchase all outstanding equity of CRA for $18 million, in addition to $4 million upon meeting strategic performance goals over the next year-and-a-half.
CRA’s risk assessment process begins with a patient history survey that can be completed at home or in the clinic. From there, the platform uses a range of risk models to evaluate and describe a patient’s risk score.
Along with the assessment, CRA can integrate the results directly into electronic health records, with recommendations including whether additional imaging or genetics testing is needed.
The company says it conducts over two million risk assessments annually in more than 75 teaching hospitals, genetic clinics and breast imaging centers across the country.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Through the acquisition, Volpara will be able to reach more high-risk patients to provide screenings and necessary care, according to Dr. Ralph Highnam, Volpara’s CEO.
"The acquisition of CRA is very significant for Volpara,” Highnam said in the announcement. “CRA is a leading provider of risk assessment tools within major EHR systems and has integrations already established with the main genetics companies.
"CRA brings world-class knowledge about risk and genetics. CRA will accelerate us on our mission to save families from cancer by preventing advanced-stage breast cancer."
About 13% of women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It says that early detection and prompt treatment is the best way to successfully care for breast cancer, and recommends that women aged 45 to 54 get yearly mammograms.
Using risk assessment models is important to determine not only the likelihood of developing breast cancer, but also to guide surveillance, risk reduction and genetic testing, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
THE LARGER TREND
Breast cancer screening tools that use AI, like Volpara’s, have been found to be useful in detecting cancer in mammograms. Specifically, these tools are helpful in double reading screenings, which are considered the gold standard, because it can replace one of the two radiologists.
In a separate study that used Google’s AI for breast cancer screening, the system was able to reduce the number of both false positives and false negatives in breast cancer detection.
Zebra Medical Vision also has an AI tool for breast cancer detection. Last July, the company received Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance for its product HealthMammo. It automatically sends mammograms to its analytic platform to be searched for breast lesions and marks each scan as either “suspicious” or “not suspicious” for the radiologist to inspect further.