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New Study Published on Nature Medicine Unveils the Power of AI in Predicting Osteoporotic Fractures

Zebra Medical Vision and Clalit Health Services announce the completion of a medical study that showcases how algorithms can be used to utilize existing CT data to identify patients at high risk for osteoporotic fractures. These patients can then be considered for preventive treatment. The osteoporosis algorithm was developed by Zebra Medical Vision, which collaborated on this research with the Clalit Research Institute and Ben-Gurion University, and has received wide interest from various healthcare providers around the world.

The novelty in the algorithmic research of Zebra Medical Vision and Clalit Health Services is in the algorithm’s ability to calculate bone density and identify existing vertebral compression fractures using CT scans that were already performed for other purposes. This approach enables leveraging existing CTs to identify populations at risk of osteoporosis, without the need for additional procedures or radiation exposure.

The study shows how AI can help identify patients at risk for life-threatening fractures, as Zebra Medical Vision’s technology for assessing bone fragility characteristics in CT scans was successfully translated into an accurate fracture risk predictor by the Clalit research team. The predictor was found to be as accurate as, and sometimes even more predictive than, FRAX, the current gold standard for evaluating fracture risk, which requires many clinical inputs and is underutilized.

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Osteoporosis is a significant burden on the healthcare system, costing nearly $18 billion annually in the U.S. alone. It is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over that age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. The risk of death in the first year after sustaining a hip fracture is over 20%. In spite of this, current diagnosis and treatment of the disease is subpar. Compliance with standard bone-density screening, known as DEXA, is low, and as a result many patients suffering from the disease are not diagnosed or properly treated. This new study is thus an excellent example of harnessing analytic capabilities and big-data techniques for the advancement of public health.

This unique achievement of Dr. Noa Dagan, Director of data & AI driven medicine at the Clalit Research Institute, and Dr. Eldad Elnekave, CMO at Zebra Medical Vision, points to the importance of research within the international healthcare technology arena and places both entities at the forefront of the growing digital health market.

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Prof. Ran Balicer, the director of the Clalit Research Institute, says: “This research presents results of great significance and we are thrilled for the long and fruitful collaboration with Zebra Medical Vision. There are hidden medical insights in imaging studies that the human eye cannot capture, but have the potential to save lives. We will continue our joint efforts to develop AI-based medical applications, providing physicians with the best tools and the most novel technologies. To this end, we are on the verge of developing a system that will present improved fracture prediction risk scores to all Clalit physicians and patients.”

“We have always been aware that this is a common disease with a high risk of fatality, and even though there are some treatment options for prevention, we don’t identify at-risk patients early enough,” noted Dr. Eldad Elnekave, CMO at Zebra Medical Vision. “Together with our partner, Clalit, we found that all the information we need pertaining to at-risk patients already exists in CT tests done for other reasons. It’s time to utilize that information.”

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“This AI capability is now proven at scale to be able to massively increase the screened population for osteoporosis without exposing the patients for more imaging scans or radiation” stated Eyal Gura co-founder and CEO at Zebra Medical Vision. “We are happy to collaborate with Clalit on such groundbreaking research like this one and others that are coming.”

Clalit Health Services is the largest of Israel’s state-mandated health insurance providers, responsible for providing healthcare services for its 4.5 million members. Clalit owns and operates 1,500 primary care clinics and 14 hospitals, including 30% of Israel’s hospital acute care beds. Clalit Research Institute has been leading innovative research and AI translation into medical practice for more than a decade.

The study, titled “Automated opportunistic osteoporotic fracture risk assessment using computed tomography scans to aid in FRAX underutilization,” can be found in Nature Medicine Journal, one of the world’s most notable medical journals.

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