The travel industry has been significantly disrupted as a result of COVID-19. Vacations and business trips have all but disappeared, and there is no question that when travel does resume, it will look very different from the pre-pandemic world. Protocols on how to ensure public health and minimize risk for passengers and the flight crew are not consistent across all airlines (each airline has its own policies and procedures). In addition to cleaning and sanitation procedures, airline employees will be observing passengers for any signs of viral symptoms. That being said, digital health monitoring tools will play a role in assisting workers as they assess passenger health. During a discussion with MedTech Intelligence, David Maman, CEO and co-founder of Tel Aviv-based Binah.ai, explains how digital health technologies will be leveraged for prevention and monitoring now and in the future.
MedTech Intelligence: What role will digital technologies play in ensuring the health and safety of travelers in the COVID-19 and post-pandemic world?
David Maman: During the COVID-19 outbreak and into the post-pandemic world, the travel industry will need to provide a safe travel environment to passengers and teams. They can do this by relying on digital health technology to provide accurate, real-time insight into a wide range of health measurements, which can ultimately lessen the risk of future outbreaks.
MTI: What are the most important characteristics of the Vital Signs Monitoring Tool and how does it work?
Maman: Through a unique mix of signal processing and artificial intelligence technologies, Binah.ai extracts vital signs in less than a minute via a video of a person’s face, focusing on the upper cheek area. The app can extract: Heart rate within 10 seconds; oxygen saturation within 20 seconds; respiration rate within 30 seconds; mental stress levels and heart rate variability within 90 seconds. Hemoglobin levels and blood pressure are expected to be added in the near future.
MTI: How has the technology been tested?
Maman: Binah.ai’s technology has been clinically tested against medical-grade equipment and has been proven successful in measuring vital signs including heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiration rate and heart rate variability.
Binah.ai is currently partnering with medical services to prevent the need for close human interaction when testing vitals, including at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.
MTI: Where do you foresee the first areas of adoption of vital signs technology from a geographic perspective?
Maman: Digital health technology is already being used around the world. One of the use cases for our solution is telehealth and the United States is leading this market. COVID-19 has been a huge catalyst of the telehealth usage around the world, and we think it is here to stay and grow even after the pandemic is over. Binah.ai’s technology, specifically, is currently being implemented in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada, and we will file for FDA approval this year.
MTI: What cost savings does this technology provide to the patient/consumer and the healthcare system?
Maman: At the user’s level, Binah.ai’s technology does not require the purchase of any additional devices such as oximeters or home medical appliances. Using Binah.ai’s solution from anywhere they want, they are able to cut down on time away from work and commuting to the doctor’s office—just from a device that more than 6 billion people already have—their smartphone.
The healthcare system can cut immense costs by implementing the technology in tablets or already existing devices, but it mainly can be used as a tool to cover the huge gap created by the shortage in medical staff, which is expected to reach 15 million worldwide in 2030, according to the World Health Organization. Specifically for patients with heart disease, asthma, diabetes and for those undergoing routine psychological care, telehealth and remote patient monitoring is expected to save more than $100 billion. Additionally, the technology can extend and provide basic health services to remote populations, or home-bound patients—as we’ve seen with COVID-19.