Cordio and Rambam Hospital will trial AI that detects coronavirus cases from speech samples

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Cordio Medical today announced that it will begin a clinical trial at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital on an app-based AI system that analyzes speech to diagnose and remotely monitor COVID-19 patients. Assuming it passes scientific muster, the tech could be used to help treat self-quarantined patients who are likely to have COVID-19 but who haven’t yet been hospitalized. Worldwide infections stand at over 800,000 as of publication time.

Cordio’s COVID-19 solution is built on its existing HearO product, which was developed to remotely monitor patients suffering from heart failure by collecting recordings via mobile devices. Engineers at Cordio adapted it to identify bilaterial pneumonia with edema in the lungs that’s characteristic of COVID-19; the company claims it can pick up on the changes in lung fluids and onset of inflammation even before patients notice it.

HearO, which hasn’t yet obtained FDA approval, can sense fluid accumulation with a claimed over 80% accuracy. It’s already in use at ten medical institutions, including Rambam, Beilinson, Barzilai, Hagalil, Clalit Health Services, and others.

AI-powered voice diagnostics

Given the triaging that they might be able to perform for health systems, the renewed interest in voice diagnostic technologies, which were something of a niche prior to the pandemic, isn’t surprising.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and startup Voca.ai released an app that can determine whether someone has COVID-19 from a voice recording, and Vocalis Health says it’s working with Israel’s Health Ministry and Directorate for Defense Research and Development to collect “vocal biomarkers” of COVID-19 patients and healthy people to develop a screening technology.

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They aren’t without caveats — Benjamin Striner, a graduate student who contributed to the Carnegie Mellon project, cautioned that the app’s accuracy can’t be tested because of a lack of verified data. But preliminary research suggests that AI-powered voice analyses can fairly accurately diagnose other conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and high blood pressure. To this end, a team at Mayo Clinic is exploring how AI might be used to detect vocal changes that could be predictive of an outcome, such as stroke, heart attack, concussion, and even Parkinson’s disease.

On the private sector side of the fence, Canary Speech has developed and completed clinical trials for vocal diagnostic models targeting Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. Another startup — Corti — sells a product that ingests and analyzes emergency call recordings to help dispatchers identify patients experiencing cardiac arrest. As for WinterLight Labs, whose platform measures hundreds of vocal biomarkers to determine cognitive impairment or mental health issues, it’s studying potential clinical applications for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, aphasia, and depression.

Cordio Medical was founded in 2013 by Aviv Lotan together with Peregrine Ventures, an Isreal-based venture capital fund for early-stage investments.

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