AI: A Game Changer for TB Detection in High-Risk Communities

AI: A Game Changer for TB Detection in High-Risk Communities

By Ashutosh Pathak – CTO at

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge, particularly in high-burden countries like India. The country faces numerous obstacles, including a vast and diverse population, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and socio-economic issues. As the country with the highest TB burden globally, India has approximately 20,000 radiologists serving a population of 1.4 billion, creating formidable challenges in timely diagnosis and treatment. Given the scale of the problem and the shortage of skilled medical professionals, it is imperative that addressing TB effectively requires a multifaceted approach, including the development of vaccines, fostering research partnerships, and integrating technological advancements like artificial intelligence (AI).

The drawbacks and limitations of the traditional method

Conventional diagnostic methods involve conducting scans at screening centers or mobile screening units, with radiologists later reading the scans. Suspected patients are then sent for confirmatory sputum testing. This process is time-consuming and results in delays in diagnosis, contributing to the further transmission of TB due to its highly contagious nature. The delay also increases the risk of patients being lost to follow-up, which exacerbates the spread of TB. Additionally, the cost of a single sputum test can exceed 1000 rupees, with results taking several days. Other challenges include diagnostic difficulties, drug resistance, stigma, and fragmented healthcare delivery systems.

A Revolution in TB Detection

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer promising solutions for improving TB detection and enhancing public health outcomes. DeepTek’s AI-powered lung screening tool, Genki, has significantly revolutionized TB detection efforts globally. The tool is particularly effective in resource-limited settings as it operates locally without needing internet connectivity, making it ideal for remote areas.

Genki’s AI algorithm can evaluate chest X-rays within 20 to 30 seconds, rapidly identifying potential TB cases and other anomalies for further analysis. This capability empowers on-ground teams, without the need for onsite Radiologist presence, to promptly collect sputum samples from presumptive TB cases without losing the patient, ensuring swift and efficient intervention. By providing immediate results, Genki reduces the delay between screening and diagnosis, minimizing the risk of patients being lost to follow-up and subsequently reducing TB transmission.

Once these cases are identified, they are seamlessly synced with an online platform for radiologist evaluation and strategic oversight by program officials, enhancing coordination and efficiency across various regions.

Genki’s accuracy and reliability have been validated by independent third parties, and it is powered by DeepTek’s US FDA-cleared chest X-ray AI. This ensures high standards of performance and compliance with regulatory requirements. Moreover, the tool can be operated by technologists without the need for a radiologist on-site, making it a scalable solution for widespread implementation in underserved areas.

Impact and Global Reach of Genki

In the past four years, Genki has screened over 500,000 patients using portable X-ray machines in various settings, including Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and Tamil Nadu state’s mobile vans. By enabling rapid and efficient screening, Genki contributes significantly to the global fight against TB, leading to earlier detection and better patient and public health outcomes. The successful deployment of Genki extends beyond India, with implementation in countries like the Philippines, Thailand, and Mongolia. These global applications demonstrate the tool’s versatility and effectiveness in diverse healthcare settings.

Accuracy and Efficiency

Genki has achieved an impressive accuracy rate of 97% to 98% in TB detection, underscoring its effectiveness. In addition to its advanced AI algorithm, Genki features administrative dashboards for patient management, further optimizing screening program efficiency. In the GCC, AI technology use has increased TB detection yield by 25 times. Genki can operate offline on a regular laptop when paired with ultra-portable or portable X-ray devices, demonstrating its end-to-end accessibility, accuracy, speed, and comprehensiveness.

This integration of AI with portable technology represents a groundbreaking approach to expanding access to essential healthcare in underserved communities. Genki is at the forefront of healthcare innovation, offering new opportunities for enhanced public health and well-being. This powerful combination of AI and portability is poised to significantly benefit high-risk populations and contribute to global efforts to combat TB.

By leveraging AI technology, DeepTek’s Genki is transforming TB detection, improving public health outcomes, and advancing the global fight against one of the world’s most persistent infectious diseases.

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