Know how Centre's X-Ray Setu on WhatsApp can detect Covid-19
A new AI-driven platform will now help early intervention through rapid screening of coronavirus disease cases with the help of chest X-ray interpretation over WhatsApp for doctors who have access to X-ray machines. The solution called X-Ray Setu can work with low-resolution images sent via mobiles, is quick and easy to use, and can facilitate detection in rural areas.
Artificial intelligence-based X-Ray Setu, which operates through Whatsapp, plans to onboard 10,000 doctors in small towns and rural areas where RT-PCR tests and CT-scans are not available to detect the cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a senior official of AI and robotics foundation Artpark said on Tuesday.
Non-profit organisation Artpark CEO Umakant Soni told news agency PTI that X-Ray Setu, developed in collaboration with start-up Niramai and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), detects Covid-19 with the help of simple X-ray which is processed using an AI system in the backend without charging any fee at present.
The chest X-ray of a person is uploaded by the doctor or radiologist on WhatsApp bot of X-Ray Setu which analyses the image and generates a report in 10-15 minutes.
How to conduct the test?
To conduct the health check, any doctor simply needs to visit www.xraysetu.com and click on the ‘Try the Free X-Ray Setu Beta’ button. The platform will then redirect the person to another page, wherein he or she can choose to engage with the WhatsApp-based chatbot via web or smartphone application. Or the doctor can simply send a WhatsApp message to the phone number +91 8046163838 to start the X-Ray Setu service.
Then they just need to click the picture of the patient’s X-ray and obtain the 2-page automated diagnostics with annotated images in a few minutes. While extending the probability of the Covid-19 contraction, the report also highlights a localised heatmap for a quick perusal of the doctor.
Tested and validated with over 1,25 000 X-ray images from National Institute of Health, UK, as well as over 1000+ Indian coronavirus patients from, X-Ray Setu, has shown excellent performance with Sensitivity: 98.86%, and Specificity: 74.74%
Soni said that the technology has been operational since last one week and 500 doctors have come on board to use it.
"We are planning to create a strong network of 10,000 doctors in the next 15 days who are trained in leveraging XraySetu, so that when the third COVID wave comes, we are ready with solutions that can reach doctors in rural areas," Soni said.
He said that India had 5,335 rural community health centres as of March 31, 2019 that can be used and private estimates indicate that two-third of them have a working X-Ray machine and a technician to operate it.
"We are making our best effort to reach all places where X-ray machines are installed. We will not charge any fee for the next 6-8 months. Even on a paid basis, it will be less than ₹100 per test," Soni said.
IISc promoted Artpark has received support of ₹230 crore from department of science and technology under National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems and the Karnataka government, to develop AI and robotics facilities to support technology innovations.
Niramai founder, CEO and CTO Geetha Manjunath said X-Ray Setu aims at creating an ecosystem for affordable and rapid screening in rural areas, for lung infections like coronavirus, pneumonia, tuberculosis etc.
"We believe X-Ray Setu can play an important role to address the delays and false negatives in the RT PCR test. CT Scan leads to heavy exposure to radiation compared to an X-Ray. X-Ray Setu can be a supplement to RT PCR and CT Scan," Manjunath said.
Artpark (AI and Robotics Technologies Park) co-founder and chief information officer Subhashis Banerjee said X-Ray Setu intervention can help in early treatment of patients which in case of an RT-PCR test takes over 24 hours and in some cases it has been 3-4 days long wait.
"Release of patients from hospitals has been on the basis of quantitative parameters. With X-Ray Setu we can add some qualitative parameters because it is harmful to expose a person to CT Scan radiation in a short time," Banerjee said.
As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the rural heartlands of India, it has become critical to drive rapid testing, contact tracing, and create dedicated containment zones. At a time when such tests are taking more than a week across some cities, the challenge is even more for rural areas. Easy alternative tests are necessary as RT-PCR tests also give a ‘false negative’ for some variants.