Infermedica reveals rise in anxiety and heart conditions
Infermedica, the AI-based platform focusing on primary care, has launched its new report ‘What can we learn about people using symptom checkers?’ aiming to help providers get ahead of emerging healthcare trends.
Analysing anonymised data from 1.8m interviews (check-ups) performed globally between June 2019 and November 2020, the AI-driven Symptomate platform has confirmed, in line with research, a significant rise in certain psychiatric disorders during the Covid pandemic, and also identified a 17% rise in cardiovascular disorders (CVD).
Using a mobile or desktop app, patients provide a list of symptoms which are then analysed by Infermedica’s AI-driven platform, possessing a database of more than 1,270 symptoms and 680 conditions, to produce a list of the most probable causes.
Lack of exercise, poor diet, increased stress, and lack of access to face-to-face healthcare are recognised as contributing factors in the 9.5% rise of major depressive disorders, and a 148% jump in suggestions of anxiety disorder with panic attacks. But these same factors also contributed to the rise in heart attacks, reinforcing – as Magdalena Wadas, a psychiatrist at Infermedica comments says – ‘the links between mental and physical health’.
Infermedica's analysis also found that technology can play a vital role in the diagnosis of mental health conditions, particularly for men, for whom picking up the phone and asking for help remains the biggest barrier. Unintrusive technology that can enable a doctor to provide actionable advice after just pressing a few buttons reduces the need for the initial questioning that many can find daunting.
A reluctance to seek treatment is also an added risk factor in the rise in heart attacks. A report from the New England Journal of that hospital admission for CVD had actually dropped during the pandemic by up to 48%. Additionally 13% of adults surveyed stated that they would be reticent to call emergency services in the event of CVD for fear of being “embarrassed if an ambulance showed up and they weren’t actually suffering from a heart attack.”
Meanwhile 25% would rather stay at home than risk contracting Covid in a hospital. Infermedica hope to lower these rates through Symptomate’s ability to connect the dots between common symptoms patients may not associate with serious underlying conditions.
For example, a pattern of unusual fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and shortness of breath may be a more likely indicator of CVD among women than chest pains stereotypically associated with heart attacks, which are reported by only 29.7% of female users.
Jakub Chwiećko, a physician at Infermedica comments: “When patients have access to technology that can quickly determine how critical their situation is, they can then act knowing that they do in fact require urgent attention, and this should surpass other anxieties.”
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.