Expediting Covid19 Testing in India via AI-based Solutions
By Manisha Raghunath
Covid19 is as mysterious to the medical fraternity as it is to the general public, maybe a little less yes but definitely not a puzzle everyone’s been able to piece together. In such a scenario, it’s important to understand the extent to which it has spread. Therefore, testing as many people as possible becomes super essential.
A number of cases of Covid are turning out to be asymptomatic patients which come to light only when a symptomatic patient gets tested. Thus, it’s imperative to expedite testing and test larger numbers of people, especially those living with people who are vulnerable to contracting COVID or may have comorbidities.
In times like these, it is companies like Qure.ai that come to the aid of governments and organizations working toward creating safe spaces to test people for COVID as well as work on testing volumes that far exceed the regular capacity of hospitals and other Covid testing centers.
Qure.ai is an Artificial Intelligence-based company and part of ACT Grants’ boutique of portfolio companies.. Qure is working on projects connected to testing processes in times of Covid9.In their own words, “Qure.ai is deploying AI-powered pandemic response solutions for COVID-19 management.”
At present, Qure.ai is limiting the deployment of the tool to within Mumbai and they are working in close collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) while trying to reach out to the remotest corners of the city.
With Qure.ai’s AI powered testing solutions, the pace at which COVID testing can be carried out has increased multifold. A robust tool easily deployable in under a couple of hours is the highlight of the Qure.ai testing tool. This also means, scaling the testing volumes from about 500 a day in a single testing centre to say 10,000, will not take them more than a couple of hours considering their primary and almost only requirement is a good internet connection and the willingness of the hospital or centre to enable this tool to be deployed.
When asked about their scaling plans Reshma Suresh, Head of Operations at Qure.ai said, “Our technology is so robust, practically the only infrastructure we need in order to set up the tool is a good working internet connection.” With such minimal requirements, a COVID testing centre can easily be set up in the remotest corner of the city at present and in future, the country as well.
On what their biggest challenge has been so far, when it comes to carrying out testing, they say it has mostly been coordination with each hospital individually, due to the lack of sufficient manpower as part of the COVID response team (largely due to the numbers involved). There is no specific mandate that says chest X-ray is to be done for a specific condition, another procedure for another condition, etc. So, it became important for the Qure.ai team to speak to each stakeholder, right from the technician handling the X-rays to the Chief Medical Officer, radiologist, and everyone else involved in the entire process as well as the BMC, and convey the importance of the software.
A team of doctors in a mobile COVID-19 testing unit analysing data from the Qure.ai tool
Since the concept is new and awareness about it is less, making each of these stakeholders understand is another challenge. While this was a challenge, what made things easier for Qure.ai to deploy the testing solution was the readiness and willingness of the BMC and other organizations to source all the equipment needed to set up modular COVID testing and COVID care centers at short notice.
With their robust deployment process, Qure.ai is all ready to scale testing capacities, going forward without much hassle!
Editing Sneha Banerjee