- Siemens Healthineers has formed a pact to accelerate the application of artificial intelligence to chest X-rays to diagnose tuberculosis.
- Working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Qure.AI, Healthineers will provide free licenses, train healthcare professionals and help roll out AI-enabled processes.
- The project, which will initially target Indonesia, could accelerate the reading of routine scans and enable trained radiologists to review X-rays remotely to improve TB detection.
The World Health Organization recommends screening for TB infection in targeted populations using tools including chest X-rays. However, some healthcare systems lack the funding and equipment to adopt targeted screening programs, spurring interest in the use of AI. The WHO recommends “computer-aided detection” as an alternative to human interpretation of digital chest X-rays for TB screening and triage.
Healthineers has partnered with two organizations to help healthcare systems implement AI-enhanced TB screening programs. The Global Fund provides 76% of all international financing for TB. Qure.AI sells what it claims is the “most widely used AI for comprehensive chest X-ray reporting.”
With Healthineers selling digital X-ray systems, the three organizations collectively have connections to healthcare facilities in areas of high TB burden, equipment for imaging chests and AI for interpreting the scans. The collaborators plan to use those resources to improve the detection of TB.
“Every year, we estimate that millions of people with TB are missing from the radar. If we are to beat this disease, which still kills one person every two minutes, we urgently need more efficient and more accurate tools to detect it. We believe that AI is one of the answers,” Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, said in a statement.
The organizations plan to use AI to accelerate the reading of routine scans, hoping to speed up the time to TB diagnosis and for the number of undetected cases to fall. According to Healthineers, a person with untreated TB can spread the disease to up to 15 people a year. Diagnosing and treating infections earlier can therefore curb the spread of the pathogen.