HONG KONG – Singapore is Biofourmis Inc.’s latest destination for its Biovitals Sentinel platform to remotely monitor COVID-19 patients, with the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH) becoming the company’s latest customer.
The platform monitors COVID-19-positive patients for early signs of deterioration, enabling health care professionals to intervene remotely. It is the latest gadget to use Biovitals, Boston-based Biofourmis' artificial intelligence health analytics platform, to predict clinical exacerbation by up to 21 hours before an event’s occurrence, thus allowing for early intervention.
Biofourmis’ biosensor Everion, worn on the upper arm of the patient, produces the data to be analyzed by the platform. The biosensor, in conjunction with Biovitals Analytics, measures more than 20 biomarkers, including temperature, blood oxygenation, heart rate, blood pulse waves, heart rate variability, respiration rate and inter-beat-interval.
“Singapore is the fifth country to deploy Biovitals Sentinel, which has already been deployed in Hong Kong, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia,” Kuldeep Singh Rajput, Biofourmis’ CEO, told BioWorld. “We started discussions with the MOH in April, which culminated in a contract to manage COVID-19 patients in the city.” Biofourmis also has an office in the Lion City, as well as offices in Zurich and Bengaluru, India.
Clinical trials for the platform took place in Hong Kong in February. Biofourmis announced that the University of Hong Kong selected it for its remote monitoring and disease surveillance program a month later. The program monitored COVID-19 physiological biomarkers indicating deterioration in quarantined patients who were diagnosed with or suspected to be infected with COVID-19. The platform is currently in use at several quarantine facilities in Hong Kong.
“The platform’s accuracy is achieved by the use of the collected data to analyze how the disease uniquely manifests in each patient and create a signature profile, taking the [more than] 20 biomarkers measured by the platform into consideration. The key is to build on traditional physiology signals with additional signals and parameters, such as cough samples.”
The Biovitals Sentinel kits configured by the company in conjunction with the MOH for Singapore include the Everion biosensor, clinician dashboard and a smartphone preloaded with the Biovitals Sentinel patient-facing app. The dashboards are customized to ease remote monitoring and set with critical thresholds to alert health care professionals to abnormalities in a patient’s vital signs.
Meanwhile, the patient-facing smartphone app syncs the data in real time and collects qualitative data from patients via questions about their symptoms and functional status. Biofourmis worked with several agencies to translate the app into six different languages, including simplified and traditional Chinese, as well as Malay, Tamil and Bengali to cater to Singapore’s diverse population and large numbers of workers from overseas. The app also has been translated into Spanish for the U.S. market to address the large Spanish-speaking population there.
In addition, the company has set up a remote support team using video and chat functions to provide remote technical support in multiple languages to assist patients in properly understanding how to use the app.
The customized platform is to be used at community care facilities set up by the MOH for COVID-19 patients who are clinically well and no longer require acute care, as well as newly diagnosed patients with mild symptoms not requiring hospital care.
Health care workers at the facilities, set up at locations such as Singapore Expo & Max Atria, will use the platform’s dashboard to remotely monitor the patient’s vital signs and are alerted via their mobile phones to early signs of deterioration or significant physiological changes that could require medical attention and intervention.
The platform is also in use at several swab isolation facilities to provide care for and monitor the symptoms of patients awaiting their results. Its ability to remotely monitor patients minimizes frontline health care professionals’ exposure to the virus, while at the same time providing real-time data for large numbers of patients.
Biofourmis’ hopes for the platform do not end with monitoring COVID-19 symptoms. Rajput also hopes that the device’s abilities to monitor multiple biomarkers will be used to diagnose COVID-19, particularly in asymptomatic patients. Meanwhile, the platform is being used by two drug manufacturers/researchers in clinical trials for their COVID-19 treatments, although Rajput declined to provide further details.
With initial low numbers of cases and deaths, Singapore has recently seen a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in overseas worker dormitories. The city reported 51,531 COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths as of July 30, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Meanwhile, the number of global cases has topped 17 million.
The ever-rising number of global COVID-19 cases has led Biofourmis to seek more markets for the kit. “We are currently in advanced discussions with two governments in particular, and active discussions with other governments are also underway,” said Rajput. He declined to provide further details.
Meanwhile, Biofourmis targets starting phase I trials “sometime between the end of July and August” for an as-yet-unnamed device it is co-developing with Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to measure pain levels in endometriosis patients.