Tag: Corona

25June 2020

Study details first AI tool to help labs rule-out COVID-19

Hospital-based laboratories and doctors at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic might soon add artificial intelligence to their testing toolkit. A recent study conducted with collaborators from the University of Vermont and Cedars-Sinai describes the performance of Biocogniv’s new AI-COVID™ software.

The team found high accuracy in predicting the probability of COVID-19 infection using routine blood tests, which can help hospitals reduce the number of patients referred for scarce PCR testing.

“Nine months into this pandemic, we now have a better understanding of how to care for patients with COVID-19,” says lead author and University of Vermont Assistant Professor Timothy Plante, M.D., M.H.S., “but there’s still a big bottleneck in COVID-19 diagnosis with PCR testing.”

PCR testing is the current standard diagnostic for COVID-19, and requires specific sampling, like a nasal swab, and specialized laboratory equipment to run.

Biocogniv Chief Operating Officer Tanya Kanigan, Ph.D., says, “According to data from over 100 US hospitals, the national average turnaround time for COVID-19 tests ordered in emergency rooms is above 24 hours, far from the targeted one-hour turnaround.”

Complete Blood Count and Complete Metabolic Panels are common laboratory tests ordered by emergency departments and have a rapid turnaround time. These tests provide insight into the immune system, electrolytes, kidney, and liver. The researchers were able to train a model that analyzes changes in these routine tests and assigns a probability of the patient being COVID-19 negative with high accuracy.

“AI-COVID takes seconds to generate its informative result once these blood tests return, which can then be incorporated by the laboratory into its own test interpretation,” says Jennifer Joe, M.D., an emergency physician in Boston, Mass. and Biocogniv’s Chief Medical Officer. “In an efficient emergency department that prioritizes these routine blood tests, the door-to-result time could be under an hour.”

Cedars-Sinai pulmonary and internal medicine specialist Victor Tapson, M.D., says such assistive tools that help physicians rule out possible diagnoses are familiar in emergency medicine. “For example, a low D-dimer blood test can help us rule out clots in certain patients, allowing providers to skip expensive, often time-consuming diagnostics such as chest CT scans,” says Tapson.

The Biocogniv team believes a secondary benefit of laboratories incorporating AI-COVID might be reduced time for traditional PCR results. “With the help of AI-COVID, laboratories might relieve some of the testing bottleneck by helping providers better allocate rapid PCR testing for patients who really need it,” says Joe.

The AI-COVID model was validated on real world data from Cedars-Sinai as well as on data from geographically and demographically diverse patient encounters from 22 U.S. hospitals, achieving an area under the curve (or AUC) of 0.91 out of 1.00.

“This enables the model to achieve a high sensitivity of 95% while maintaining moderate specificity of 49%, which is very similar to the performance of other commonly used rule-out tests,” says Biocogniv Chief Scientific Officer George Hauser, MD, a pathologist.

Biocogniv CEO Artur Adib, Ph.D., says, “I’m honored to have such an impressive team of medical scientists from the University of Vermont and Cedars-Sinai as collaborators in validating this timely model. AI has progressed considerably; the time is now to leverage this powerful tool for new healthcare breakthroughs, and we’re glad to direct it to help hospital laboratories and providers combat the current COVID-19 crisis.”

25June 2020

VR could be key to helping recovered COVID-19 patients get therapy, according to experts

Authors of an article published in BMJ Open Sport Exercise Medicine say the technology could help with rehab therapies, with social distancing.

Virtual reality could be key to COVID-19 rehabilitation, according to a new paper published in BMJ Open Sport Exercise Medicine. Specifically, the authors of the publication pitch tailor-made rehabilitation services that can be administered remotely via a VR experience.

The authors explain that many COVID-19 patients who were critically ill continue to have Post-Intensive Care Syndrome, even after the infection is gone, leaving a potential risk for physical, psychological and cognitive impairment.

“Traditional PICS treatments also do not account for the additional emotional and societal side-effects of this particular crisis, such as social distancing, limitation of family members’ visits and consultations by primary caregivers when patients are discharged,” authors of the study wrote. “VR provides healthcare practitioners with the means to administer fast, temporary and tailor-made rehabilitation services at a distance, and offers a solution to address the impending surge of demand for PICS-COV therapy.”

VR could help patients not just with physical rehab but could also help with psychological support for patients who have overcome COVID-19.

Authors noted that the technology is well suited to today’s environment as it lets therapy be delivered at a distance and allows therapists, who may be in high demand, to treat patients simultaneously. VR differs from traditional telemedicine, the paper says, because of its ability to put patients into a 3D environment.

However, VR also presents new sets of challenges, according to the article. Those challenges include creating a new toolkit for physical, mental and cognitive therapy. The risk of falls is another potential issue in the technology. Authors of the paper suggested that patients should sit when doing cognitive and mental health-related therapy. Proper patient education was also suggested.


According to a paper published in Heart Lung, 50% of all patients admitted to the ICU that go onto a ventilator develop PICS. The paper goes on to note that there is no difference in PICS risk between ICU patients with morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary and those admitted to the ICU who do not have a morbidity.


Virtual reality is growing in popularity in the healthcare space. In Italy one hospital is supplying VR therapy to its workers to help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with treated coronavirus patients.

Virtual reality is also growing in the rehabilitation space, in stroke care in particular. In February a use-of-concept study found that stroke patients given virtual reality therapy were consistent in completing the therapy, and preferred a version that let them connect to others.

In 2018, a rehabilitation research group from the Kessler Foundation and immersive interactive technologies company Virtualware announced the two organizations are teaming up to develop a VR-based treatment for spatial neglect in stroke patients.