AI Smarter than Humans to Flatten the Curve of Coronavirus

Wash your hands, social distance, isolate!  Humans are doing their part to fight COVID-19, but   the technology side of the story that is currently underreported.  There was a boost last week to Google’s Verily when President Trump mentioned that they were going to be using technology to screen.  As we saw, they were nowhere close to launching such a tool. Verily’s rush to build a COVID-19 screening tool on the fly underscored how tech companies have been forced to improvise to stay in Trump’s good graces.  There’s no way to do this in days, weeks, or even months. The data has never been properly aligned in healthcare, and COVID-19 is exposing this weakness. There are many self assessment mediacal tools however, CloudMedx is one of the only companies that uses crowdsourced data and artificial intelligence (AI) to fine tune and inform doctors’ models to flatten the curve of COVID-19; they have been in development for 5 years.  CloudMedx does this by using AI on data to help both doctors and patients.

The company believes in “Aligning Intelligence” to the 3 Ps in healthcare – Payers, Providers, and Patients to serve their needs. CloudMedx uses AI to enhance existing workflows and generate automated clinical insights, which in turn improve operations, case management, and patient engagement for health organizations.

Supporting some of the top hospitals and payers in the country, CloudMedx integrates natural language understanding (NLU) and deep learning with major EHRs and healthcare organizations nationwide. In the case of COVID-19, this may include predicting surge, length of stays, resource utilization (ICU beds, equipment, etc.), staffing needs, and identification of high-risk individuals based on available data.  Without aligning all the data, you can’t treat people based on the one thing that drives all care, i.e. what happened with the other person who was just like you, had similar symptoms, because you need to do what worked last time again.

For patients, CloudMedx announced that its AI chatbot, AskSophie, is now enabled to help them self-assess for the risk of COVID-19.  AskSophie is a free, online symptom checker that uses guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide patients with the relative risk of contracting the disease based on their location, symptoms, and age. It further provides reference guidelines on what to do if patients are high, medium, or low risk.  AskSophie is available via Medicare.gov and Covid2019.health.  t works similarly to how Waze sources user-provided traffic information. However, instead of real-time traffic information, CloudMedx uses guidelines from the CDC to better inform the  patient about their relative risks, lab centers near them, and having a meaningful and personalized conversation with a doctor. Then, like an Air Traffic Control, it provides the healthcare ecosystem with the location, spread, and impact of the virus, so they can prepare for what’s coming.  This allows patients to be a part of the decision-making process with their doctors while avoiding public interaction as symptoms persist. AskSophie is not intended to provide anything definitive, but rather to provide patients with categories of conditions common to people with similar symptoms for education purposes and to further investigate with their health providers.  In the near future, CloudMedx plans to connect AskSophie to telemedicine providers and provide additional resources to assist patients.

Tashfeen Suleman, CEO of CloudMedx said, “Instead of user-submitted transportation information, we want to gather and organize large volumes of medical information to help patients and healthcare administrators assess this disease together and collectively align care to drive better patient outcomes.”

Doing the right thing for patients is deeply rooted into the ethos of the company and is also the genesis. Six years ago, Suleman’s father went to an emergency room twice complaining of frequent headaches, and twice doctors sent him home with a diagnosis of allergies. It turned out he was suffering from a subdural hematoma — bleeding around the brain. Following the second misdiagnosis, he went into a coma and required emergency brain surgery (he made a full recovery). After trying to get to the root of the inaccurate diagnoses, his family discovered the hematoma was the side effect of a new medication his father had been prescribed a few weeks prior. He lacked physical symptoms like slurred speech and difficulty walking, which normally would have prompted doctors to order a CT scan and detect the bleeding earlier. CloudMedx exists today because of this misdiagnosis.

“We believe healthcare is a fundamental right for everyone, and we are driven to tackle its greatest challenges by aligning intelligent insights to improve care at scale,” said Suleman.  “With enough crowd sourced self-reported data, we can get a better handle of the disease. COVID-19 has exposed that the health system has a data problem. When you are sick, it is all the other sick people who preceded you, from their symptoms and pre-existing conditions to their heredity and location, that enables doctors to ensure you’re properly guided for care. Without this insight, it’s very hard to make the right call about treatment. And that’s why COVID-19 is tricky, because there is no history to work from, and it’s being exacerbated by the speed of which it’s coming, making it impossible to ensure that only people who need assistance can be prioritized and properly cared for.  Healthcare is a village, and with the current pandemic growing in numbers, it becomes paramount to contribute patient data to a broader collaboration with technology companies and healthcare service providers, to join forces and tackle this challenge together.


Article first appeared March 18, 2020 on Forbes.com.