Eye For Innovation
Forbes India|January 15, 2021
Five companies launched and modified products to address health care needs and simplify treatment during the pandemic.
NAINI THAKER

Qure.ai: (X-)Ray of Hope

In early March, Prashant Warier quickly realised the loopholes that existed in the global health care infrastructure. Like most health-tech startups, Qure.ai also repurposed its chest X-ray solution, qXR, to help triage for Covid-19 and monitor its progression. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to interpret chest X-rays within seconds. Warier, who is CEO and founder, says, “We have a database of 2.5 million chest X-rays that has been used to train our ML algorithms.” The solution has been deployed in over 40 sites, across 30 countries.

Qure.ai—a grantee of India Health Fund, an organisation seeded by Tata Trusts to identify and support breakthrough innovations—is in talks with several global organisations and governments to use its technology to ramp up Covid-19 testing. So far, qXR has been deployed in 40 hospitals in South Asia, Europe and North America, and has processed 5,000 suspected Covid-19 cases per week.

Taking the solution a step further, Warier and his team introduced products catering specifically to health care workers. “For instance,” says Warier, “we launched qTrack, a disease management platform that allows health care workers to go door-to-door with just a smartphone to identify cases. It helps in location tagging for door-to-door screenings and hotspot mapping. It has the capability to take a picture of an analogue chest X-ray film and get qXR results on it.”

Additionally, the company also launched qScout—an AI-powered virtual care platform that helps with contact monitoring, triaging, daily remote followups and incidence geomapping—while being compliant with social distancing regulations.

Post-pandemic, Warier is confident the company will continue to thrive given that qXR can find 29 detections on the chest X-ray, including multiple ones with the lungs, pleura, heart, bones and the diaphragm. “Apart from detection, since our technology can quantify progression of diseases accurately, we see it being used to decide treatment pathways in the future,” he adds.

Recently, Qure.ai tied up with AstraZeneca to use qXR to improve early-stage detection of lung cancer to reduce mortality rates and improve patient outcomes in AstraZeneca’s emerging markets, including Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Although X-rays can be performed in primary health care centres, it is their interpretation that requires significant skill and experience. Lack of expertise in this can lead to missed or delayed diagnosis. Warier says, “qXR can aid clinicians in picking up minuscule nodules which may be missed even by experts. Such aids in early detection can have considerable long-term benefits for medical professionals in their efforts to tackle lung cancer.”

Invento Robotics: Bots As Docs

When Balaji Vishwanathan started getting inquiries about robots fighting the pandemic, he knew it was time to go back to the drawing board. By late-January 2020, his team started working on a prototype. Mitra, Invento’s flagship robot that was earlier used in hotels and banks, explains Vishwanathan, “was modified to collect patient details, check temperatures and set up video calls with doctors, thus minimising contact with health care workers”. The pilot took place in early April at Fortis Hospital in Bengaluru.

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