DocWire News recently spoke with Dr. Shady Hassan, Co-Founder of Vocalis Health, a company pioneering AI-based vocal biomarkers in healthcare. We discussed the validation of Vocalis Health’s COVID-19 screening tool. Check out what he had to say.
DocWire News: Can you tell us a little bit about the company, Vocalis Health?
Dr. Shady Hassan: Vocalis Health is a health tech company developing vocal biomarkers. A lot of information can be derived from voice, and we developed a technology that analyzes voice and give you insights about which health condition or conditions that person can has and how these conditions are changing over time. For example, a toll would maybe under treatment. We have a pipeline of vocal biomarkers in multiple stages of development in multiple diseases. One of them is the COVID-19 that we recently did a study in India, and we published the results that you saw.
DocWire News: How does the VocalisCheck tool work and how is it validated in the study?
Dr. Shady Hassan: VocalisCheck is a software only tool. That means it can run on smartphones and laptops, and basically every device that can run an app and has a microphone. It asks the user to count from 50 to 70, then it analyzes that voice recording. It actually transform the voice to an image and use that image to compare to other voice recordings, our images of voice recordings of other people that we know in our database, what the COVID-19 status is. And based on that, it outputs the risk for having COVID-19, low-risk or high-risk.
DocWire News: VocalisCheck is the first to obtain a CE mark (EU) approval for the use of COVID-19 detection. Why is this so important?
Dr. Shady Hassan: Just imagine being able to do voice screening, to detect risk for COVID-19 for the entire population, for a country. For example, at home, using the smartphones of the people you don’t need them to buy other device, don’t need them to go somewhere to do a test and then wait two or three days to get a result. You can screen everyone with a software only solution at home at their own convenience. That’s why we think it’s great. It will help governments. It will help healthcare organizations, big employers to screen people at home detect bowls at risk for having a high risk for having COVID-19 and then decide what to do with them, whether to send them to the PCR, to stay in quarantine or do something else like Rapid test or anything else.
DocWire News: When will VocalisCheck be ready for commercial distribution in the US?
Dr. Shady Hassan: So actually a VocalisCheck is already available for customers, for commercialization. We have customers worldwide. It’s being used. It has been used for example, to allow a safe back to work. So we offer, back to work solution where employers can ask their employees to do one simple test in the morning before… their employees to do one simple test at home before they attend work. This way they can detect those at risk for having COVID-19 in the same thing and be utilized for airplanes, for theaters, basically everywhere. Another use case that customers have been using this product is what we call it, AI Guided testing. Imagine big labs doing COVID-19 for thousands and thousands of people, this way they can use this device in order to direct them to those who have higher risk for being positive in this way, they can be a much more effective in the test.
DocWire News: What’s the overall impact that you believe Vocalis Health can have in the fight against COVID-19?
Dr. Shady Hassan: I think it’s huge. Actually, looking back a year ago, we were doing something else. We weren’t looking at COVID, and when COVID arrived and being the company developed vocal biomarkers, that was focused mainly on one diseases and respiratory diseases. We saw here an opportunity, to help the world fight COVID-19 by providing a very scalable, very affordable solution that can be deployed at home on smartphones. So the way we see it, if the product will be adopted by governments, by healthcare organization, they can screen mess with people at once, at home, and then they can detect those address for a big COVID-19 positive very quickly.
And I’ll give an example that we saw in several of our studies. So when we looked at the patients, we had negative COVID-19 confirmed by PCR and we have positive. And in the positive groups, we had both symptomatic and asymptomatic. And what we saw repeatedly was that in the groups that were positive and asymptomatic, I mean, those that were missed by symptom screen and temperature check that VocalisCheck solution was able to detect most of those asymptomatic positive. So imagine, rolling that solution worldwide, you can easily detect those asymptomatic. COVID-19 positive that continue to spread the infection further this way you can, for example, quarantine them, and then immediately stop the spread of the infection.