The University of Hong Kong (HKU) inked a deal with Boston and Singapore-based health tech startup Biofourmis to commence a state-of-the-art COVID-19 digital tracking system. Hence, Hong Kong will become the first testing ground worldwide for advanced devices and data analytics tools supporting the ongoing remote monitoring of COVID-19 virus patients and others under quarantine. The collaborative will help track the health indicators of 50 confirmed patients and 150 people still under quarantine.
Move to Digital, Remote Monitoring
Eric Ng with the South China Morning Post reports that the Hong Kong government is bringing home more than 3,000 of its residents who were stranded in central Hubei province which was the nexus of the COVID-19 outbreak. These individuals, left stranded due to the government mandated lockdown, now return home. Many of thee individuals could be “silent carriers.” Asymptomatic individuals represents a growing challenge with COVID-19. Since many patients don’t show symptoms for days post infection date, “traditional surveillance is not ideal, especially for those under quarantine,” reported cardiology specialist David Siu Chung-wah at HKU. Therefore, public health authorities, academic medical centers such as HKU, and private health providers must consider advanced, technology-driven monitoring schemes to enable earlier diagnoses.
Applying the Monitoring Technology in Hong Kong
Key to this innovative study is a device with built-in sensors worn 24 hours a day on the upper arm of study participants. The sensors will help measure data involving body temperature, respiratory rates, blood oxygen levels and heart rates—as data is collected it is aggregated, processed and analyzed all in a cloud-based system. According to technology supplier and stud “sponsor,” Biofourmis seeks to enable their technology to monitor most of the 500 patients currently infected and under quarantine there by the end of March.
Both HKU and Biofourmis’ goal involves an efficient and effective remote monitoring of these patients, supporting stretched clinicians by digitally directing the right alerts and data at the right time. Biofourmis claims this is the first-time technology such as this is used in this way worldwide.
The company seeks to expand the use of its monitoring technology to more places in the U.S., South Koream and Singapore as the epidemic spreads, reports the South China Morning Post. Founded in 2015 by Kuldeep Singh Rajput and Wendou Niu, the company has secured $43.6 million in venture capital in at least two rounds. Both founders have been affiliated with the National University of Singapore. Investors include Aviva Ventures, Openspace Ventures, SGInnovate, MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia (MMV SEA), and Sequoia Capital India.
Employing about 100, they tout their “pioneering of a new category of medicine, by developing clinically validated software-based therapeutics to provide better outcomes for patients, smarter engagement and tracking tools for clinicians, and cost-effective solutions for payers.” Their Biovitals® represents what they position as “highly sophisticated personalized AI-powered health analytics platform that predicts clinical exacerbation in advance of a critical event,” reflecting the core of their drug therapeutics’ product pipeline.
CIO Magazine reported the venture as one of the AI companies to watch in 2019. The fast-growing global digital health startup venture was, according to the publication, is “reinventing remote patient monitoring by combining AI, machine learning, and real-time monitoring.”
Just late last year, their Biovitals Analytics Engine for ambulatory physiologic monitoring was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, receiving a 510(k) clearance. And in May last year, the company won an FDA approval for its Cloud-based Biovitals RhythmAnalytics platform that automates the interpretation of over 15 types of arrhythmias.
Health System Partnerships
The company has reported in press releases that it is working with prominent U.S.-based health systems such as Mayo Clinic and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The company also touts its partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies.
Lead Research/Investigator for Hong Kong Study
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