Volpara Health Technologies (ASX:VHT) CEO, Dr. Ralph Highnam discusses its breast cancer screening technology, strategy and outlook.
Jessica Amir: Hi I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me from Volpara Health Technologies Limited (ASX:VHT) is CEO, Dr Ralph Highnam.
Dr Ralph Highnam: Hi Jessica, very nice to be here today.
Jessica Amir: Thanks for coming. So first up, can you give us an introduction to the company?
Dr Ralph Highnam: Over 500,000 women this year are going to die sadly of breast cancer, thousands of those across Australia and New Zealand. Volpara is a software company based in Wellington. And our focus is on improving the quality of breast cancer screening, to try and ensure many of those women get early detection. And actually go on to live long and happy lives.
Jessica Amir: Your breast screening technology has been rolled out to clinics, with a focus particularly on the US. How is that progressing?
Dr Ralph Highnam: We still work with GE Health a lot, so we continue to work with GE, but we are much more direct. So over the last year, we’ve had our new product and new direct sales force, working closely with GE and other distributors. And we’re up to 25 software as a service enterprise customers now across the US. And we’re starting to get good momentum and the sales pipeline is really building up very healthily.
Jessica Amir: VolparaDensity as well as VolparaEnterprise are really changing the early detection of breast cancer. Can you tell us about that?
Dr Ralph Highnam: It’s very important to us as a company that our customers are successful. And we’ve only enough time now at these sites, especially in the US, whereby we can really start to see the quality of the work at these customer sites, is really starting to improve. And as the quality of imaging improves, so the early detection will improve. But in parallel to that, these sites are increasingly seeing good return on investment stories, coming through.
Jessica Amir: Can you tell us about the regulatory environment and the patent position?
Dr Ralph Highnam: In terms of regulatory, we’ve had FDA clearance now for our main breast density product for several years. And that’s one of the barriers of entry really, to come into the game. Also we’ve got increasing numbers of patents globally, in particular in the US, related to how our software works on different x-ray systems. So in fact, we had another patent granted this week in the US. And that really is starting to build up another barrier to entry, to anyone who wants to come into the Enterprise analytics game.
Jessica Amir: Can you tell us about the appointment of Dr Monica Saini, whom I believe brings a lot of experience as well?
Dr Ralph Highnam: Monica is one of the world experts in breast density. And we’ve got to know her over the last few years, in her role as a breast radiologist in Santa Fe in the US, but also in her role as GE’s medical director for breast ultrasound. As we’ve got to know Monica, she’s become more and more attracted really to what we do. And really believes that some of the stuff we’re doing is going to radically change and revolutionise breast cancer screening globally.
So as the discussions grew, we got to a point where we said to Monica. Why don’t you come over and work for us, at least part-time in the offices in Wellington, as our consultant diagnostic radiologist, whilst also working down the road in breast cancer screening? So it’s all come to fruition, in fact, she’s flying into Wellington today. So I’m looking forward to getting back to Wellington and having a very productive collaboration with Monica.
Jessica Amir: What’s your long-term ambition for the company?
Dr Ralph Highnam: Our mission for Volpara is to be a very strong independent company. To really help our customers succeed and not only in helping women that come to their clinics, but also financially. But then equally, we’re really focused on helping those women and helping to detect breast cancer early.
Jessica Amir: Dr Ralph Highnam, thank you so much for the update.
Dr Ralph Highnam: Thank you Jessica and just to remind the viewers that they can go online now and read our 4C, which gives all the latest news and the quarterly results.