New Delhi & Israel: Intriguingly anticipated Artificial Intelligence is already knocking at the doors of Indian healthcare systems. With Apollo Hospitals entering into collaboration with Israel’s Zebra Medical Vision ( Zebra-Med), one of the global leaders in AI Imaging software to validate, co-develop and deploy medical imaging Artificial Intelligence across India, India is in for a radical shift in diagnosis and treatment.
HealthNet Global (HNG), a part of the Apollo Hospitals Group and Zebra Medical Vision (Zebra-Med), on March 12 announced a collaboration that will focus on validating and deploying AI based tools at scale across India. The companies shall jointly receive support from India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) for their $4.9 Million project to co-develop and to provide clinical validation, and evidence of the efficacy of radiology Al based tools in India as per I4F norms.
Speaking of the initiative, Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals said, ‘When it comes to health, the promise of AI to provide access and improve outcomes in very intriguing. There is a critical need to provide good healthcare access in remote and rural communities, and we believe this initiative will allow us the opportunity to make significant advances in this area. Apollo’s clinical and scientific depth and Zebra-Med’s expertise in AI complement each other perfectly. This project is part of our continuing endeavor to design new tools to improve healthcare access and deliver best outcomes to patients at lower cost.’
‘We are excited to partner with the leading healthcare services provider in India and to help bring AI to India at such a scale,’ noted EyalGura, Co-founder and CEO of Zebra-Med. ‘When we met the Indian team for the first time few years ago we found common ground and similar dream of scaling healthcare from millions to billions of patients. We are honored that the two governments have placed their trust in us and we are committed to utilize this opportunity to impact millions of lives,’ he added.
The final developed project will be able to assist as a primary screening method for major diseases in large scale screenings. For example, World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3.6 million people with TB are missed by health systems every year and do not receive adequate care. This is primarily because patients with TB may present with mild or no symptoms, particularly early on. Many affected people arrive at clinics too late with advanced disease or multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is difficult to treat and more likely to cause death. One of the key strategies to tackling TB is early diagnosis. Unfortunately, sputum testing is only 50% accurate and frequently misses the disease in its early stages. Both companies will focus on development of AI-based Chest X-ray interpretation tool for TB which can help address the gap.
In addition to leveraging clinical depth and breadth of the Apollo Hospitals network, HNG will work in close collaboration with Apollo Radiology International, a distinguished part of Apollo Hospitals, to bring in leadership, experience and technology in Radiology reporting to the project. The partnership will capitalize on the advancements already achieved by Zebra-ed in developing dozens of AI tools. The arsenal of algorithms will include deep learning algorithms for the detection of acute conditions such as brain bleeds in head CTs and Pneumothorax in chest X-ray, detection of breast cancer in mammograms, Osteoporosis in CT scans and 40 other conditions.
The grant will aid the partners to focus on development of India specific algorithms tool which would be of immense benefit to patients across India and other emerging nations. The project will also modify existing algorithms to make them suitable for the Indian population. The final product will assist provide high quality radiology access to remote locations by alerting the presence of critical findings immediately. This will help provide timely, cost-effective, quality care to patients in remote and rural locations.
“This is an exciting time for AI in medicine,” said Vikram Thaploo, CEO of HNG. “As these systems increase in accuracy, so will the viability of using AI to extend the reach of Chest X-Ray interpretation, improve reporting efficiency and save lives. We believe in the impact that technology can have in helping provide timely, cost-effective, quality care to patients in remote locations and our partnership with Zebra-Med is a step in this journey.”
“We believe that this project will be a very important milestone in the introduction of AI in Indian healthcare. We are excited to provide clinical leadership and expertise to this initiative”, said Dr. Sreenivasa Raju Kalidindi, CEO and Medical Director of Apollo Radiology International.