Hillel's Tech Corner: Zebra’s vision of medical solutions is as clear as black and white

Zebra-med has developed a suite of tools to help radiologists provide more comprehensive, accurate outcomes – faster, without compromising quality of care.

Zebra-med (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Company: Zebra Medical Vision
Funding: $50m
Founders: Eyal Toledano, Eyal Gura, Elad Benjamin
Founded: 2014
Investors: aMoon Ventures, Aurum, Johnson &  Johnson Innovation—JJDC Inc., Intermountain Health, Fei-Fei Li, Richard Socher, Khosla Ventures, Nvidia,Marc Benioff, OurCrowd, Qure, Deep Fork and Dolby Ventures
When it comes to Israeli companies making an impact on the world of medicine and healthcare, not many are on the level of Zebra Medical Vision.
Have you ever wondered why is it that in a world of autonomous cars, artificial intelligence, and other incredible innovations that have become mainstream, X-Rays, CTs, and MRIs – along with other medical tests and scans – are still conducted the way they were conducted 40 years ago?
I mean, yes, the machines have evolved, but the fundamental technology has remained the same. Which begs the question, why aren’t we using existing technology such as AI, data and machine learning, to increase the capacity, speed, and accuracy of these tests?
Enter Zebra-med. (https://www.zebra-med.com/)
Zebra-med has developed a suite of tools to help radiologists provide more comprehensive, accurate outcomes – faster, without compromising quality of care.
Chest X-rays, for example, are one of the most common types of radiographs ordered, but also one that is read less due to the sheer volume (some X-rays are not read at all by a radiologist). Zebra is not alone in trying to bring a solution to market, but the team at Zebra is taking a different approach, focusing first on data partnerships that enable the development of various algorithms. Additionally, integrating their algorithm into the existing workflow, adapting them to the needs of multiple geographies and healthcare environments, supporting and updating them, and regulating them properly globally are just some of things that Zebra is working on.
The team understands that we are still a few years away from AI becoming mainstream in medical imaging and diagnosis, but they believe it will eventually be a critical component of radiology. The company already offers its algorithms for detection of brain bleeds, Pneumothorax, lung, breast, liver, cardiovascular and bone disease, which they sell to hospitals at up to $1 per scan – the intention is to democratize AI so it can impact as many patients’ lives as possible.
SOMETIMES YOU can look at a company’s investors to know how significant and remarkable the company truly is – a “show me who your investors are and I will tell you who you are” kind of thing. In this case, we are talking about some of the most impressive names in medicine and tech. Names like Johnson & Johnson, Intermountain, aMoon, a fund co-founded by billionaire Marius Nacht, as well as Marc Benioff, and so many other AI leaders, such as Fie Fei Lee and Richard Socher.
Following seven algorithms that have CE mark, at the end of 2018, Zebra also received FDA 510(k) clearance for an algorithm that helps physicians quantify a patient’s coronary artery calcification, and is expecting to receive several others in the near future.
Zebra Medical Vision also recently unveiled its Textray chest x-ray research, the most comprehensive AI research of chest x-rays to date. The research provides a glimpse into an eventual automated chest x-ray analysis product that Zebra is developing.
This product was trained using nearly two million images that identified 40 different common clinical findings. To put things in perspective, this is 20 times the amount of data that was used for the Stanford research in this field.
The latest news announced by Zebra is that they are partnering with India’s largest hospital chain, Apollo, to fight tuberculosis. The government-funded $4.9-million partnership is focused on the development of an AI-based chest X-ray interpretation tools for screening in rural India, where 1.2 billion patients are based.
Zebra is based in Shefayim, a kibbutz in central Israel, has around 60 employees, a number that you can expect to grow with their new $30 million in the bank.
When it comes to tech and innovation, if you look pretty much across the board, the companies that are the most successful are the ones that solve a real problem, have a significant addressable market size, strong IP, and are using technology to fundamentally transform a field that is conducting itself in a primitive and archaic manner. Zebra Medical checks all those boxes, which combined with a very strong team, gives you a clear indication that you will be hearing a lot more about this remarkable company in the near future and for many years to come.