Artificial intelligence in medical diagnosis
Vivascope helps to improve healthcare in emerging markets
Many people in remote areas don’t have access, or only partial access, to laboratory diagnostics. Now, a smart technology provides a remedy: Vivascope uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze blood and other body fluids — far away from the nearest laboratory set-ups.
The devil often is in the detail, for example in the trillions of cells of a human body. Some have spikes while others are elongated instead of round. This is not normal, but these abnormalities are difficult to detect and are often the first signs of a serious illness. Technologists and engineers for medical technology at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI) in Bengaluru, India, have accumulated great depth of knowledge on this subject over the last years. To develop Vivascope, the Bosch experts needed medical expertise, which is why they collaborated extensively with medical experts and pathologists like Dr. Shyla V.
The synergies deriving from the combination of clinical and technology expertise led to the development of this smart platform, which enables the detection of diseases early on, thereby saving precious human life. Vivascope analyzes body fluids and detects irregularities in cells using artificial intelligence. The doctor does not even have to be on-site to view biological specimens like blood and other bodily fluids.
One pathologist for 1.5 million patients
In many regions of the world, laboratory medicine is scarce. For more than 1.5 million people there is sometimes only one pathologist who can examine blood and other samples for diseases and make a diagnosis. By contrast, the available specialists often work at the very limits of what is possible, which delays the results or increases the risk of oversight errors. Two thirds of the examinations are still carried out with a microscope, which is time-consuming. In addition, many people in emerging countries such as India or in the rural regions of Africa and Latin America do not even have the opportunity to see a laboratory specialist in the first place. Then the race between life and death really begins. “People often die before they get a cell analysis,” says Guruprasad S., business domain leader for healthcare at Bosch in India.
Vivascope, on the other hand, can analyze the shape and structure of human cells around the clock, and anywhere in the shortest possible time. For this purpose, the smart technology magnifies the samples taken, creates digital high-resolution images and analyzes them for irregularities using AI algorithms. Nevertheless, the diagnosis and the decision on the type of treatment always remain the responsibility of the treating clinical doctor. However, thanks to Vivascope, the physician can recognize more quickly whether there are abnormalities in the shape, size or structure of the cells and whether a disease or disorder is present. This is particularly important, especially in emerging markets such as India, for the early detection of various diseases and disorders like sickle cell anemia, a deformation of blood cells that is often fatal.
The AI-based device was fed with over 30,000 images and around nine million data points from cells. With the help of Dr. Shyla V., more than 165 distinct characteristics per cell were determined which Vivascope can then analyze. But this does not stop at pure pattern recognition: it is done through advanced image processing and machine learning algorithms making the results continuously better. The more Vivascope is used, the more precisely it analyzes. Currently, it takes less than 15 minutes to evaluate a sample. “A manual cell analysis in the laboratory can take several hours,” explains Guruprasad S.
"If the patient can’t make it to the lab, the lab will come to the patient"
Guruprasad S., business domain leader for healthcare at Bosch in India
Can be deployed anywhere
Thanks to its high efficiency and advanced technology, the analytical device also meets all the requirements for use in developed markets, where digital forms of diagnosis are becoming increasingly important in the health sector. As an open and connected device, Vivascope can therefore support pathologists all over the world in evaluating samples. It can also be seamlessly integrated into hospital and laboratory information systems; the images generated are suitable for any screen resolution. Thus, even your own smartphone can be connected to Vivascope and the cell analysis can be sent digitally.
This enables experts to exchange opinions crossing geographical barriers. Not much larger than a laptop, the smart platform is compact and suitable for diverse set-ups. After all, it is not dependent on a single energy source. The built-in rechargeable battery pack provides power for up to six hours; the AI-based device is therefore also suitable for use in remote areas. Vivascope is planned to be launched in India by mid of 2020. Then what Guruprasad S. describes will apply: “If the patient can’t make it to the lab, the lab will come to the patient.”
Vivascope analyzes and detects irregularities in cells using artificial intelligence. A doctor does not even have to be on-site to view the biological specimens. Especially in emerging countries, this can save human lives as many people do not even have the opportunity to see a laboratory specialist in the first place.