As the world battles the COVID-19 outbreak, technology in the healthcare sector can help diagnose and monitor patients to contain the spread. There are a variety of AI algorithms and digital tools being developed to fight the disease, and current solutions include telehealth, wearables and data analytics to help healthcare providers make more informed decisions.
Hospitals are using AI-based systems to detect COVID-19 on lung X-rays and CT scans. Tech companies are refining AI systems with deep learning algorithms to speedily diagnose and monitor coronavirus cases. This enables radiologists to quickly review and prioritize the growing number of chest scans every day. AI experts say that over time, these algorithms can be trained to prioritize which patients may require ventilators and which cases can recover at home.
Clinical-grade wearables can be used to monitor quarantined patients at home or in hospitals. A device called Emerald, created by MIT was recently used to remotely monitor COVID-19 patient’s vital signs, movement and sleep patterns. This has been in use previously in hospitals, but this is the first time it’s been used to track COVID-19. It allows doctors and medical centers to triage less-severe patients at home and ensure that patients with higher risk have access to medical facilities. It generates important health data without requiring patient contact. This results in a reduction in medical staff’s exposure to the virus, because every time they have to physically interact with a patient, doctors, nurses and medical staff stands the risk of contracting the disease.
AI is also powering outbreak monitoring platforms which can help quarantined patients at home communicate with their healthcare providers. Further, it can be used to monitor recently discharged patients to monitor how they are recovering. The platform, over time, can be trained to help doctors identify those patients who are at further risk of worsening health. This would allow them to optimize care to this category of patients.
Telehealth is emerging as an effective method of receiving health advice remotely without requiring the patient to go to doctor’s offices and risk catching the virus. While physicians may not be able to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis purely via telehealth and without testing, they can screen patients and recommend any next steps that the patient can undertake in case any infection is suspected. Patients at risk can get in-person care faster. Telehealth not only improves access to medical attention, but also faster diagnosis and triage to save time and money.
Tech companies, universities and healthcare providers across the world are working together to invent new solutions to fight the global pandemic. Every innovation is a big step in helping reduce risks for patients, healthcare workers and the larger community.