Artificial intelligence helps Mumbai civic body detect 1,255 comorbid patients

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Updated on Jul 26, 2020 01:04 AM IST
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ByEeshanpriya MS

To detect comorbidity in patients of Covid-19 and their high-risk contacts, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been working with companies that use artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose pre-existing medical conditions and utilise resources effectively.

BMC is working with Radical Health-tech Private Limited, a startup that had participated in an AI innovation challenge organised by Maharashtra government and Niti Aayog in March 2019. Ashwini Bhide, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said, “Some AI entities are working with BMC’s health department for early detection of Covid positivity as well as comorbidities in people by analysing chest X-rays, CT scans as well as retinal images using AI tools. Radical Health-tech is among them. They detect comorbidities among high-risk contacts and mildly-symptomatic [Covid-]positive patients using retinal screening.”

In June, Radical Health-tech started screening people at 15 locations, including all the patients at the jumbo facility in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). Until July 23, Radical Health-tech had screened 3,167 people of whom 1,255 had co-morbidity. Of the 1,255 people, 65% had been unaware that they had comorbidities. The screening led to 259 people being newly detected with glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration; 188 were newly detected with diabetes; 376 with hypertension; and five with other systemic comorbidities like asthma, jaundice, tuberculosis, and kidney stones.

Since those with comorbidities are more vulnerable to contracting a serious case of Covid-19, 88 people or 2.78% were placed in high-risk category; 713 people or 22.51% were in the moderate category; and 2,366 people or 74.71% were in the low-risk category.

On July 24, BMC’s public health department sanctioned Radical Health-tech to work with the civic body at jumbo facilities (HT has a copy of the sanction letter).

Co-founder of Radical Health-tech, Rito Maitra said, “If you have diabetes or hypertension, blood vessels all over the body will show some sign or another. Changes are seen in hands, in legs, in the brain, in the eyes. They are subtle. However, in the eyes they can be noticed non-invasively. It is the only place in the body that allows this [through retinal imaging]. Reports are immediately given to patients and to the doctors of the facilities.”

Radical Health-tech is also working with BMC to ensure patients follow up on their comorbidities after being discharged from Covid care centres (CCCs). Maitra said, “All people, but especially those from low-income groups, do not pro-actively do yearly check-ups. Many are not aware of the comorbidities. Many are not even aware of simple facts about human anatomy that we take for granted, for example, the function of the liver. So we are counselling these patients to help them understand what their comorbidities mean and continue treatment with BMC later.”

BMC has also been working with the Covid-19 Data Science Consortium since May. The consortium is convened by Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a non-profit based in Mumbai which uses AI for social good and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mumbai in 2018. It includes volunteers from prestigious organisations like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, and Stanford University in the United States of America.

Janak Shah, formerly with the office of the chief minister of Maharashtra and now associated with the Wadhwani group, said the institute is backed by international agencies like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. “We are helping with future case prediction using machine learning and artificial intelligence, healthcare resource predictions, and human resource predictions,” said Shah.

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