Leading artificial intelligence (AI) firm, Qure.ai, is supporting PATH India to initiate an innovative project to overhaul tuberculosis (TB) and Covid-19 screening in Maharashtra, India through Unitaid funding. This strategic collaboration is centered on deploying the AI-powered qXR software, which will enhance the ability to analyze chest X-rays and substantially improve COVID-19 and TB screening at chosen implementation sites. Hosted on a cloud-based platform, the software ensures unfettered connectivity between different locations.
Before the Unitaid grant, Qure.ai’s qXR was already operational in 7 Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Pallika Hospitals, where it was utilised to screen 90,000 plus patients for Tuberculosis and other chest abnormalities. Remarkably, its implementation resulted in a 35% rise in TB Notifications. This is attributed to the system’s capability to identify patients who visited for reasons unrelated to TB, revealing incidental findings through the non-Tuberculosis pathway.
Under the Unitaid-funded project, within a 12-month period, qXR is scheduled for deployment at four key medical facilities across Maharashtra. These include Dr. Zakir Hussain Hospital in Kathada and Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackrey Rugnalaya under the purview of the Nashik Municipal Corporation, as well as K.B Bhabha Hospital in Bandra which falls under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.
Commenting on the partnership, Dr. Shibu Vijayan, Medical Director, of Global Health, Qure.ai, said, “We are excited to work alongside PATH, a global health organisation dedicated to achieving health equity through innovation and partnerships and Unitaid to accelerate our fight against TB and help the India government reach the ambitious goal of Ending TB by 2025. By deploying Qure’s qXR software at selected sites in Maharashtra, this project will significantly enhance TB diagnosis’s accuracy, speed, and efficiency, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and a positive impact on public health.”
As a part of this project, patients will undergo AI-enabled chest X-Ray screening for Tuberculosis in the usual hospital workflow. Patients will commence their journey at the outpatient department (OPD), where an OPD doctor will perform initial screenings. Should it be deemed necessary, a chest X-ray will be carried out by an X-ray technician for patients suspected of having TB or chest infection. Patients will be directed to the TB counter for sputum collection when TB is suspected based on X-ray outcomes. This will be followed by CB-NAAT testing or AFB microscopy, ultimately leading to the commencement of treatment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery of essential health services. Through the deployment of qXR, we are hoping to support the health workers in triaging, screening, and management of COVID-19 and TB, and thus minimising the impact on routine service delivery. The evidence generated will help scale up technologies that can act as integrated screening solutions,” said Neeraj Jain, Country Director, PATH India and director, PATH South Asia.
To date, across Dr. Zakir Hussain Hospital, Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackrey Rugnalaya and K.B Bhabha Hospital, qXR has helped process over 4800 chest X-rays for Tuberculosis and COVID-19. Utilising the advanced AI capabilities of qXR, the chest X-ray will undergo a comprehensive evaluation for potential lung abnormalities, including conditions such as cardiomegaly, opacity, pneumothorax, consolidation, radiological indications of tuberculosis, pleural effusion, hilar enlargement, fibrosis, nodules, and cavities. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Qure’s qXR software holds an EU MDR class IIb certification and has been approved by CDSCO in India.