Is AI revolutionizing the diagnosis of Coronavirus?
The Biofourmis case
You’ve probably read dozens of articles claiming that technology is being widely used against Coronavirus.
From robots to sterilize rooms and avoid direct contact with patients to machine learning algorithms that detect new cases, it seems that technology is everywhere in the fight against Coronavirus.
However, how much has technology helped diagnose Coronavirus?
As you may know, that’s probably the toughest part to fight the virus. Tests are scarce in most countries, including the US, meaning testing levels are not ideal. The countries that have been the most successful against Coronavirus aren’t necessarily the ones that have implemented quarantines most effectively, but the ones that have made most tests.
Let’s talk about one AI initiative that may help detect Coronavirus quicker.
Biofourmis is a Boston startup led by Kuldeep Singh Rajput. The company developed a wearable technology and software to analyze patients with cardiac conditions. That means the system detects subtle changes that antecede symptoms such as shortness of breath, and the software finds patterns in the data.
A group of Hong Kong physicians believes the software can be used to detect COVID-19 infection markers in around two days. As you may know, the incubation period of Coronavirus can be of fifteen days. However, the median is to present symptoms in five days. That means Biofourmis’ software could be used to detect early markers faster and may even help healthcare professionals to treat patients with milder symptoms remotely, leaving the hospitals for worse cases.
When the team contacted Singh Rajput to adapt the system for Coronavirus, his team got to work. The process would typically take 2 to 3 months, but the team worked non-stop to get it done in three weeks for testing.
Afterward, a University of Honk Kong team tested the system in a group of around 200 patients, both with and without symptoms. The system sends patient data to the cloud, and patients can also self-report symptoms. Physicians can check the data remotely every four hours, and if they see signs, they can order a test immediately.
The FDA has already approved the Biofourmis system for heart failure. Singh Rajput says they are close to announcing an agreement with healthcare providers in the US for the COVID-19 version of the technology.
That may mean that a more significant number of people that have been exposed to the Coronavirus will be tested faster, and healthcare professionals can monitor a higher number of patients remotely.
So, yes, we are not saying AI will become a Messiah against Coronavirus. Nevertheless, initiatives such as Biofourmis may make a difference in the struggle against the virus, and we’re hoping that’s the case sooner than later.