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The world is going through a serious crisis, a crisis for which there is no precedence. Everywhere, people are fighting the virus in their own ways, but healthcare professionals do deserve a lot of credit in this respect. They serve people, respond to critical calls, and educate people on how to fight the virus. Technology plays an important role in providing people with advanced healthcare services through AI and IoT.

Throughout the globe, countries are pausing other activities to muster their efforts and resources to find a cure, and AI and IoT are the first resources on the list. Both these technologies can definitely make an impact and bring about positive changes in the way we detect and treat the deadly virus.

In this article, we will discuss the different, effective ways by which AI, IoT, and machine learning can change the way we fight the coronavirus.

1. Identify, track and forecast outbreaks

Naturally, one of the first logical steps would be to understand what the disease is all about. Then, we can focus on how one can be aware of the symptoms, the steps one needs to take to prevent the disease from spreading, how to keep away from people who might be infected, and so on. As the fear of the virus will never recede, it is important to know how to fight it.

Several governments all over the world and even some private companies have begun investing in their technologies to bring about innovative changes in healthcare. A good example of this would be the chatbot launched by a French start-up, Clevy.io to help people find official government communications regarding COVID 19.

CovidBot

Image Credit: CovidBot

This chatbot is powered by the latest information collected from the French government and the World Health Organization. When people ask doubts, the software assesses the symptoms and answers questions related to government policies in real-time. The chatbot can also answer questions about the disease, on exercising and improving immunity. The information it provides would be accurate and verified. With the chatbot, it is possible to identify and track the spread of disease and thus prevent outbreaks in localities.

2. Understand the spread of the virus

In order to prevent the spread, it is pertinent to understand the virus itself, and how it can spread. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can analyze the spread of the virus itself and identify the future of the pandemic and vulnerable populations? AWS Diagnostic Development, in partnership with the Researchers at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub in California, uses machine learning to estimate the number of COVID 19 cases that could go undetected and the drastic effects of the same on public health. The company is also in the process of developing new technologies that can detect mutations in the virus so they can better analyze the spread of the disease.

3. Diagnose the virus

Since the threat of contracting the virus is so near and so close, many startups have been leveraging their skills and resources to find a way to diagnose the virus so infected people can go into quarantine and not infect other people. Infervision is an Artificial Intelligence company based in Beijing that introduced a coronavirus AI solution that would aid healthcare workers in diagnosing the disease with impressive speed and accuracy. According to the company, the claim is that technology can distinguish between COVID 19 and other respiratory infections, thereby relieving people coming with other problems.

4. Faster processing of health claims

Once people are suspected of contracting the virus, some of them might need hospitalization. However, a few can be quarantined at home, and wait till the virus runs its course. When a patient requires hospitalization, it is not only the person’s finances that suffer a setback, the business and administrative divisions of the healthcare systems are also stretched to the limit. To ensure there is faster processing of health claims, you can develop a system that speeds claims processing and cuts down on the face to face interaction between the patients, their relatives, and hospital staff. AI can play an important role in this and provide ‘touchless claims’.

Incorporating these apps with chatbots would be effective in pulling out the customer’s geographical and social data to provide personalized interactions. IoT sensors make it possible for insurance carriers to consider real events and price their coverage based on this data. This means that the data linked to a particular individual would be used in real-time rather than data linked to groups.

5. Drones can deliver medical supplies

Drones with medical supplies would be the biggest go-to advantage of AI-powered devices and apps. Since healthcare professionals cannot go in personally to provide medicines to patients, drones can transport medical samples and other relief material with minimal risk.

Drones Supplying Medical Kits

Image Credit: GHSP Journal

Since they would be unmanned, the robots can go into hotspot areas (locations with the maximum number of COVID 19 patients) and even patrol areas, monitor for non-compliance and do thermal imaging. This way you can extend the reach of hospital networks and bring the healthcare system closer to where the patients are.

6. Robots sterilize, deliver food and supplies and perform other tasks

Robots fitted with artificial intelligence can do what people cannot do - carry medicines, clean and sterilize, even deliver food and medicines. Robots with ultraviolet light can autonomously kill bacteria and viruses, making it possible for non-infected people to live in the same locality as those who are infected.

Several startups have come forward with robots that have fitting tools like pulse oximeters and digital stethoscopes to examine patients and other people with suspected symptoms. Doctors do not have to go near the patients and put themselves in danger anymore.

7. Develop medicines

Google’s Deep Mind (UK artificial intelligence company founded in September 2010) is famous for being one of humanity’s most revered innovations. The company has also put its best foot forward to fight the virus by using the latest AI algorithms and its massive computing power. Through Deep Mind, it is possible to understand the proteins that form the virus. By publishing their findings, they will be able to help other companies develop treatments. Hence, efforts are underway to understand the structure of the proteins and we hope for the best.

8. Chatbots for consultation

Machine learning-enabled chatbots are the need of the hour. They allow for contactless screening of COVID 19 symptoms, answer questions about government policies, respond to queries from the public, and so on. With the number of questions that are thrown back and forth, these chatbots can answer questions on just about everything, ranging from exercises to COVID 19 risks, making it easier for governments and healthcare professionals to handle the brewing panic.

This can prevent the spread of misinformation while giving clear information regarding do’s and don'ts based on the symptoms, testing centers, medical centers that treat COVID, and so on. The idea would be to collate the information from several different centers and bring them all to a single platform.

9. Developing test kits with AI

If we have enough AI-powered test kits, it would be easy to contain the virus much faster than the SARS and MERS outbreak or any other epidemic mankind has faced in the past. It was a molecular biotech company in South Korea that developed a test kit in just under three weeks, where in fact it would have taken 3-4 months if done in the traditional manner.

Test Kits with AI

Image Credit: CNN

Scientists are making breakthrough discoveries all over the world. Very soon we would be able to see AI models using data from the COVID Symptom Study app to predict COVID-19 infection. This can be done by comparing people’s symptoms with that of COVID positive tested symptoms (traditionally tested). Clinical trials regarding this are already underway in the US.

10. Speeding up diagnostic procedures with AI

When COVID 19 was first detected, doctors depended on CT scans to identify the disease and one of the features was the presence of a ‘shadow over the patient’s lungs’. Sometimes, patients need to take more than 300 CT images to analyze the disease and that could be painstaking and time-consuming.

With the faster spread of the deadly virus, healthcare professionals needed something far more adept at diagnosis. Accurate AI-based systems were introduced to detect the disease, with a whopping 90% success rate when it comes to accuracy. The analysis can be done in under 20 seconds, saving time in the process.

11. Providing assistance to front-line health workers

When the number of patients increases, healthcare workers must take precautionary measures to protect themselves and the other patients they treat. These are the medical front-liners and they might put several lives at risk, including theirs if they are not able to take sufficient precautionary measures.

The right solution to this would be an AI-powered platform that can monitor the health of the patients, and that of the healthcare workers. For example, Inspiren is an internationally acclaimed company, and the receiver of several international innovation awards for their hybrid sensing computer vision, IoT, and audio/video monitoring platform across various hospitals in New York City and central New Jersey.

One of their major contributions towards the fight against COVID 19 is the creation of new algorithms that can alert staff in real-time whenever PPE suits, masks, gloves, and eye shields are not worn correctly. To limit exposure from source patients, the nurses and doctors are able to monitor patients virtually through live video and audio feeds connected to the patient’s rooms, thereby avoiding physical visitation. The feed would be sent in real-time to mobile and desktop applications that the healthcare workers can access.

12. Finding a vaccine or drug in a faster manner

Researchers all over the world are toiling hard to find a drug that cures the deadly virus and saves people from the deathly grip of a terrible disease. But finding a vaccine for bacterial and viral infections usually takes years. Sadly, this is something we cannot afford as the world has already paid a huge price and more waiting means more deaths.

N.1 Institute for Health at the National University of Singapore has come up with an innovative and pioneering AI platform named IDentif.AI (Identifying Infectious Disease Combination Therapy with Artificial Intelligence) to help find a drug that can save years of time. Hopefully, this would help scientists develop the right drug combination to combat the disease.

13. Prevent physician burnout and encourage more time for patient care

Unfortunately, physicians all over the world spend a lot of time entering, re-entering, and editing their data and patient charts, and they lose valuable time that could have been spent tending to their patients. Physicians become stressful and overburdened and this is something we cannot afford in the fight against COVID 19.

AI has once again come to the rescue in the form of speech recognition. With this technology, physicians can deliver clinical documentation much faster and capture relevant data through the help of personalized tools integrated onto a wide range of workstations and mobile devices.

Conclusion

While it is evident that AI is causing a major paradigm shift in healthcare methods all over the world, there are still apprehensions on the real effect that technology can assert. However, there are several positive thoughts on what AI and IoT can do.

AI can help detect certain drugs that could turn out to be effective against the virus. For example, according to the Imperial College in London, two drugs that were used to cure rheumatoid arthritis might be effective against COVID 19 (ongoing studies). Similarly, Insilico Medicine, based in Hong Kong revealed that they were able to identify six new molecules that can halt viral replication with the help of AI algorithms.

Over time, we can expect AI-powered apps in the market that generate a healthy response to the virus outbreak by addressing several key factors such as:

  • Understanding the transmissibility and risk populations
  • Establishing the natural history of infection, complete with incubation period and mortality rate
  • Identifying the causative organism
  • Establishing effective prevention and control measures through epidemiological modeling

Collecting all the data procured from different sources can help create great AI applications for dedicated purposes. True, an AI or machine learning application cannot replace an epidemiologist or virologist, but it can definitely do wonders through analysis, and suggest measures of prevention and cure at the onset of a pandemic.

If you would like to contribute towards the fight against COVID 19 by developing an innovative IoT or Artificial intelligence solutions, Cabot Technology Solutions would be the perfect partner for you. Get in touch with us today to know more!

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