AI-based risk screening mobile app – key for COVID-19


South African company UC-Wireless has launched Instant Vitals, the world’s first smart mobile-based app that provides advanced healthcare risk wellness and COVID-19 screening for business staff, clients and personal users. The app screens the main recognised symptoms and measures vital signs, which are key early indicators for health risk especially COVID-19, including oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate, using the mobile phone’s camera and Artificial Intelligence (AI) incorporated into the app, turning mobile devices into an easy-to-use clinical tool exhibiting an acceptable standard of medical device accuracy.

The presentation of COVID-19 in respect of the various signs and symptoms from several reviews, studies and reports, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), state that temperature measurement alone is ineffective in detecting a possible COVID-19 infection. Asymptomatic patients don’t reveal symptoms and aren’t aware of an infection. There’s proof that the critical early warning signs of COVID-19, include a reduction in oxygen saturation (below 95%), and/or a high resting heart rate (above 100 beats per minute), or an increase in respiratory rate (above 20 breaths per minute) in a resting person.

It has been indicated that temperature checks alone have had their own limitations in screening. In recent weeks, the WHO and medical experts from across the globe, including Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, Jim Seffrin, an expert on infrared devices at the Infraspection Institute in New Jersey, and Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed the ineffectiveness of temperature screening. They report that temperature checks are unreliable for detecting COVID-19 symptoms in people as temperature and fever often do not exhibit, or it is detected late in the disease progression as infected individuals may be in the incubation period, or they may not exhibit symptoms in the course of the disease. Fauci describes the adoption of infrared thermometers in safety protocols, as theatrical, while Tam said, “The more you actually understand this virus, the more you begin to know the temperature taking is not effective at all.” This can only mean that a lot of cases are being missed at the screening points, especially considering the effects of the external environmental elements that can alter the skin temperature in comparison to real body temperature. Measuring temperature is still important; however, its ineffectiveness highlights the need for the advanced screening that Instant Vitals now presents together with its integrated QR Code mechanism to manage access to businesses and venues.

The Instant Vitals app and its embedded AI were designed in collaboration with medical doctors, engineers, professors, and digital and tech experts. Instant Vitals extracts vital signs with good clinical lab-tested accuracy within approximately 20-50 seconds by processing video which the AI detects from skin regions of the face. Instant Vitals supports any age, gender and skin colour. It runs like any other app on a mobile phone or tablet. The app calculates a risk status from the vital signs and the answers to the screening questions, which are encrypted and stored in the Instant Vitals secure cloud service for each person.

Once individual and organisation licenses are purchased and registered on the app, Instant Vitals generates a unique encrypted QR code for each person’s device for screening. When the QR code is scanned, and the symptom questionnaire is completed, the vital signs are measured. It’s a simple step-by-step process. The information captured is kept private; it’s POPIA and EU-GDPR compliant. The only data made available publicly is the person’s risk status at the point of entry when their QR code or mobile number (for visitors) is provided for screening. The organisations using Instant Vitals for their business premises can see risk status reporting on their Instant Vitals dashboard.

The risk status of screened individuals is flagged as green (healthy), amber (caution; vital signs and/or symptoms are not normal but not high risk) or red (one or more vital signs and/or symptoms are indicating a risk which should be referred for medical attention or diagnosis). The app also shows a critical status, which is an extreme red status and means urgent medical treatment should be sought by the individual, based on the vital signs measured and symptoms analysed by the app. Those whose risk results are red or critical status should be referred for COVID-19 testing. The app can save lives by alerting individuals at risk when they screen to get to medical attention in time. The app is not intended to replace medical advice, therefore individuals should consult with qualified health care professionals for diagnosis and advice.

Instant Vitals was developed by UC-Wireless as a health and wellness risk management solution, incorporating its licensed AI technology. UC-Wireless has been registered with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) as a manufacturer incorporating the certified AI and the app Instant VitalsTM. Global adoption for the AI is in place with organisations, including Canada Health and NHS. This licenced technology meets the requirements of global accuracy regulations and applications for approvals from the FDA and CE are in progress. Further global adoption of Instant Vitals in Africa, APAC, Europe and North America is already well underway.

Quentin Daffarn, managing director of UC-Wireless, says, “There are so many benefits for personal and multi-person entry screening using the Instant Vitals app. Because it detects key vital signs, which indicate risks as early as possible, it can minimise the risk of cross-infection, and consequences such as business downtime, loss of skills and sales. The benefits of business continuity through the general health and wellness monitoring tool for early detection minimizes compromised individuals from putting others at risk of infection when accessing public places. Peace of mind is a significant benefit with the easing of the lockdown restrictions across the world as more people to return back to work.

The app caters for mass QR code scanning by individuals who screened at home. It also enables screening for visitors and staff without phones at corporate offices, restaurants, retail stores, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, public transport facilities, schools, universities, airports, industrial sites and mines, amongst others.”

Two licence options (a personal app and business screening verifier app, including the dashboard) are available. The app will be accessed from the Apple iStore and Google Play store. The licenses will initially be available via resellers and partners of UC-Wireless across Africa and globally.

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