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COVIDsentinel.ai: CHU Sainte-Justine develops a global artificial intelligence web platform for better management of COVID-19

April 20, 2020

MONTREAL, April 20, 2020 – Building on recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), COVIDsentinel.ai platform is being launched today to address the needs of different clienteles during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project, developed by CHU Sainte-Justine in collaboration with the company bld.ai and the University of Chicago, has been made possible thanks to the support of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation and the TransMedTech Institute.

This open-access web platform is designed to address the specific needs of three distinct populations, namely the general population, health professionals and researchers, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis we are currently experiencing.

"Although this platform is intended to support three groups, the initial version will concentrate on users from the general population. An intuitive interface will permit tracking of individual self-reported COVID-19 symptoms and provide the ability to share this information with the individual's virtual social circle and healthcare professionals," says Dr. Sze Man Tse, clinician-researcher in pneumology at CHU Sainte-Justine.

A second phase of the platform's development, supported by the TransMedTech Institute, is already underway and focuses on the needs of healthcare professionals and researchers, while taking into account the experiences of early users. "Implementation of a wider territorial deployment relies on raising awareness among decision-makers involved in the pandemic, as well as additional funding. Our contribution aims to ensure intermediation with all stakeholders in the project in Living Lab mode in getting behind, coordinating and financially supporting the COVIDSentinel project," adds Marie-Pierre Faure, deputy director of TransMedTech. 

"Gradually, we will focus our efforts on developing a dashboard that will enable healthcare professionals to remotely and automatically monitor the symptoms experienced on a daily basis by targeted individuals, such as infected patients, patients in isolation at home and vulnerable patients," says Dr. Alena Valderrama, clinician-researcher specializing in public health and preventative medicine at CHU Sainte-Justine.

Lastly, using highly skilled AI programmers and intuitive and proven cybersecurity tools, a quality database will be created to study the natural history of COVID-19, risk factors in the general population and in specific subgroups, all with the aim of helping the global research community.

"We want to create a sustainable infrastructure that provides users, health professionals and researchers with management and support tools. This platform could be used in other epidemic situations," says Dr Aleksandrs Kalnins, radiologist at the University of Chicago.

"Pandemic detection is a good application of AI because AI techniques can detect signals and patterns that are otherwise too subtle to be observed in isolation. It's not so much about obtaining large amounts of data rapidly, but rather about obtaining a variety of data points from around the world," adds Shie Mannor, a professor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

In order to translate the voluminous content of the platform into several languages to obtain a variety of data points from around the world and thus make this tool benefit as many people as possible, a large number of volunteers will be put to work. In addition to English and French, the platform has already been translated into several other languages, including Spanish, Tagalog, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, Hindi, Russian, German and Bahasa Malaysia.

"In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, the Sainte-Justine CHU Foundation is doing its utmost to continue supporting the priority needs of Sainte-Justine and the Research Center, and we are grateful to our donors who enable us to support these promising initiatives that will benefit both patients and front-line staff," concludes Maud Cohen, president and CEO of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. 

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About the TransMedTech Institute

The TransMedTech Institute aims to support the development of innovative medical technologies, train the next generation of professionals and develop innovations in life sciences and engineering. Based on a "Living Lab" approach, TransMedTech provides an integrated environment that supports a process of interdisciplinary collaborative processes and co-creation of new medical technologies and interventions to catalyze their development and adoption by users. The TransMedTech Institute is led by 5 founding institutions (Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, CHU Sainte-Justine, CHUM and the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal). It also brings together some fifty partner institutions and has first-rate infrastructure to support the development and validation of medical technologies. For more information, go to transmedtech.org

About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

The CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 210 research investigators, including over 110 clinician-scientists, as well as 450 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Centre is part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child centre in Canada. For more information, go to research.chusj.org.