This interview is part of our new AI in Healthcare series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and healthcare.
In this interview, we speak with Emi Gal, co-founder and CEO of Ezra, to understand how his company is using AI to transform healthcare, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Ezra? Why and how did you begin?
EG: In 2015, a friend introduced me to a non-profit organization in Romania called Hospices of Hope, dedicated to providing hospice care for terminally ill cancer patients. Through being involved with Hospice, I became very interested in why so many cancer patients end up in palliative care. I learned that one of the main reasons is because they find cancer when it’s too late, and that they find cancer late because there’s no way to quickly, painlessly, and accurately screen for cancer everywhere in the body. This inspired me to spend two years doing research and see if there was any technology out there I could harness to help everyone in the world catch cancer early. I spent the next two years scouring research papers, meeting with doctors, and talking to scientists. And one morning, while reading research papers on my honeymoon (as you do), inspiration struck: what if we could offer a full-body MRI that’s analyzed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect cancer everywhere in the body. I asked my wife if she’d sign up, and she loved the idea. That’s how Ezra was born.
2. Please describe your use case and how Ezra uses artificial intelligence:
EG: Unlike other cancer screening modalities such as CT scans, MRIs do not expose you to radiation, making it safe to use in healthy, asymptomatic individuals. But MRIs are expensive to acquire (a prostate MRI takes, on average, 30 minutes), and they’re expensive to analyze (an expert radiologist will spend 15 to 20 minutes per prostate scan to generate an interpretation).
At Ezra, we’ve built our own proprietary MRI protocols to decrease the scanning time, and we’re using artificial intelligence to assist radiologists in the analysis of the scans in order to decrease analysis time and increase their accuracy. Our Prostate AI has an accuracy of 93 percent, and our results have recently been published in the International Journal for Computer Assisted Radiology & Surgery.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has Ezra done for them?
EG: Of course. Here’s a recent email we received from an Ezra Member. We now get a few of them per week.
“I am well pleased that I was able to utilize Ezra. The organization is very well run and the clear communication and follow up at every step in the timeline was excellent. I really felt that a ‘team’ was working with me at a very vulnerable time for me in my life. This is comforting to a potential newly diagnosed cancer patient. Thank you.” -Mark, 66
Lastly – just wanted to mention that in our first 100 prostate MRI members, 31 were able to avoid unnecessary prostate biopsies, 13 found early-stage cancer, 5five found metastatic cancer, and five came across acute incidental findings. It’s working!