AI-driven ‘XraySetu’ to help detect COVID cases early

XraySetu can work with low-resolution images sent via mobile phones

Representational Image: iStock

Technologists in India have developed an AI-driven platform to help in early COVID-19 intervention. XraySetu allows rapid screening of COVID-19 cases with the help of chest X-ray interpretations for doctors who have access to X-ray machines.

XraySetu can work with low-resolution images sent via mobile phones.

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the rural heartlands, it has become critical to drive rapid testing, contact tracing, and create dedicated containment zones. Tests take more than a week in some cities; rural areas face even more serious challenges.

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ARTPARK (AI & Robotics Technology Park), a not-for-profit foundation established by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, with support from the Department of Science & Technology, India, in collaboration with Bengaluru-based start-up, Niramai and the Indian Institute of Science has developed XraySetu. It is specifically designed to identify COVID-positive patients from low-resolution chest X-ray images sent over WhatsApp.

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To conduct the health check, a doctor simply needs to visit www.xraysetu.com and click on the ‘Try the Free XraySetu Beta’ button. The platform will redirect the person to another page, wherein he or she can choose to engage with the WhatsApp-based chatbot via web or smartphone application.

The doctor can, however, simply send a WhatsApp message to the phone number +91 8046163838 to start the XraySetu service. Then they just need to click the picture of the patient’s X-ray and obtain the two-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 heat map for quick perusal.

Tested and validated with over 1,25,000 X-ray images from National Institute of Health, UK, as well as over 1,000 Indian patients, XraySetu has shown excellent performance with 98.86 per cent sensitivity and 74.74 per cent specificity.

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Founder and CEO of ARTPARK Umakant Soni said: “We need to scale technology for addressing the needs of 1.36 billion people, especially considering we have one radiologist for over one million people here. Built with the collaboration of industry and academia, XraySetu paves the way for exponential technologies like AI to leapfrog and provide cutting-edge healthcare technology to rural India in an extremely cost-effective manner.”

“NIRAMAI has partnered with ARTPARK and IISc to provide a rapid COVID screening method for rural doctors who have access to X-ray machines. XraySetu provides an automated interpretation of chest X-rays to predict if a patient has any lung abnormality that indicates COVID-19 infection,” said Dr Geetha Manjunath, founder and CEO of Niramai.

“In the absence of COVID-positive X-ray images, we developed a unique transfer learning framework that leverages easily available X-ray images of lungs, not necessarily COVID positive, to learn useful features which have high predictive power. We also developed a confidence score which is guided by the areas of lungs that are infected. The system outputs a prediction, localises the infected parts, and creates a report which gives a confidence score, all within a few minutes,” said Prof Chiranjib Bhattacharyya, IISc.

Besides COVID-19, the platform can also detect 14 additional lung-related ailments, including tuberculosis and pneumonia. It can further be used for both analogue and digital X-rays and has been successfully piloted by more than 300 doctors in rural areas over the last 10 months. Technologies like XraySetu can enable cutting-edge AI-driven systems powering mobile primary health centres, which can make healthcare more accessible even across rural India at a fraction of the cost.

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