“Ezra aimed to make early-detection cancer screening more accessible and affordable. Based in New York and founded Emi Gal and Diego Cantor, Ezra developed AI-powered software that boosted the efficiency of existing MRI machines. Its pattern recognition software (which is awaiting FDA approval), trained on hundreds of thousands of MRI images, can correct distortions and errors in images, making MRI’s faster, and therefore, cheaper. A traditional cancer body scan can cost up to $10,000 and require a patient to lie in the tight MRI tube for more than three hours. Ezra’s full scan sells for $1,950 and takes about an hour. The entire process, outside of the MRI, happens on Ezra’s app—ordering tests, scheduling visits, receiving results, and consulting doctors. The ultimate goal: let people check for early signs of cancer with the ease of an annual cholesterol test.

Gal, 34, was planning to use the new cash to build new AI programs and expand to more cities (Ezra partnered with imaging company RadNet and is available in New York, LA, and San Francisco). Then the coronavirus hit. The US locked down. The medical ecosystem buckled, shifting all its resources (people, buildings, supplies) to treat the surge Covid-19 patients. Non-emergency and elective treatments all but ceased. People were scared to go to the supermarket, let alone a hospital. Even emergency care saw a significant drop in volume—with visits to some emergency rooms falling 50% since the pandemic began. Ezra’s nascent business, which according to Gal had been adding clients at a rate of 30% a month, froze.”

Read the full article on Forbes here.