Volpara is a Wellington based ISO13485 certified, ISO14971, FDA GMP compliant research, development and manufacturing company that develops digital health solutions to enable personalised, high-quality breast cancer screening based on objective measurements of breast density, compression an radiation dose.Volpara recently launched VolparaEnterprise – the cloud based solutions arm of the business. Its software analyses breast x-ray images to determine the density of the tissue, ensuring that each woman receives the right screening procedures, and reports breast specific key performance indicators for quality assurance.
Wellington-based Volpara Health Technologies is a research, development and manufacturing company specialising in breast imaging analytics and in-clinic analysis products that measure breast density. In the medical profession globally, breast density has been identified as a key breast cancer risk factor. Density can impact on a mammogram’s readability and image quality, and is often unclear in traditional scans. This can hinder accurate interpretation and diagnosis, potentially placing lives at risk.
Three years ago, Volpara partnered with Microsoft on its new analytics tool, VolparaEnterprise, a software-asa-service solution helping clinicians to detect breast cancer earlier. The software analyses and assesses every screening mammogram for image quality, positioning and exposure parameters.
Enabled by the cloud, Volpara Enterprise provides feedback and analysis to lead technologists and clinic managers on how their service is performing. Any incorrect techniques or scanning methods can be addressed with training to ensure a quality service is provided to every patient.
In traditional mammograms, the quality of positioning and pressure are hugely important. If they are done incorrectly, the result can be non-optimal scans which can have a significant impact on the detection of cancer.
For many women, mammograms are not comfortable and this is often due to pressure being too high. Low pressure, while more comfortable, can also lead to poor image quality and a higher dose of radiation. For the first time in the industry, there is an objective measuring tool that directly impacts the experience of the woman and the quality of the image. “It’s vital to get the right balance,” says Ralph Highnam, CEO of Volpara Solutions.
“We realised there was a market need for an analytics product that sat on top of the data generated by our hard-core science – information that is critical for women and for clinicians.” The company knew that the future of this type of analytics product lay in the cloud, where it could benchmark between different customers and have the ability to continuously deliver new features. There was also the ease of supporting a cloud-based product rather than an on-premise one, especially as medical files are very large. Most importantly, Volpara needed to find a platform that had scalability for this type of product.
Microsoft has been an essential partner for Volpara in the delivery of this life-saving technology. – Ralph Highnam, CEO, Volpara
Volpara chose Microsoft Azure and Power BI as the platform services to deliver its metrics and analytics to customers through dynamic, interactive dashboards. Technicians get information and business intelligence through the VolparaEnterprise product on the dashboards in real time. Ralph says the VolparaEnterprise product would not be achievable without using a cloud infrastructure like Azure.
“Microsoft gave us a platform to build our intellectual property on and this allowed us to get to market quickly. We also knew they could provide us with the level of compliance and of trust that both ourselves and our customers require, particularly as we are dealing with highly sensitive personal health information. A large amount of money has been spent by Microsoft on certifications that indicate they have a very secure system, and a base on which we can develop our solutions.
“I can’t overstate the importance of security for these products in the medical industry. The consequences and harm of any breach for a company or an individual are significant. When we base our products on the Microsoft Azure platform, we are leveraging the enormous investment they have made in their compliance certifications around information security.”
For Gareth Beaumont, Chief Architect at Volpara, Azure brings together the best platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud functionality available. “Our product is now completely PaaS with no dedicated virtual machines. Using only Microsoft services, which are all scalable including Power BI, is extremely important to us as there’s a large amount of data analysis carried out. We are now moving several components to a server-less architecture for additional resilience and cost savings.”
“There will always be subjectivity when reading scans by eye,” adds Ralph. “With Microsoft’s help, our software is giving clinicians an objective measurement tool that is performing well globally in breast cancer risk assessment.”
On top of this core feature, Volpara has added new capabilities for its customers to monitor their own performance, and ensure they are meeting their own quality goals and regulatory obligations.
“Microsoft has been an essential partner for Volpara in the delivery of this life-saving technology,” says Ralph.
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Microsoft gave us a platform to build our intellectual property on and this allowed us to get to market quickly. We also knew they could provide us with the level of compliance and of trust that both ourselves and our customers require, particularly as we are dealing with highly sensitive personal health information. – Ralph Highnam, CEO, Volpara