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GENEVA and LOS ANGELES, June 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and Scanwell Health announced a new partnership for developing a smartphone app that uses machine learning and computer vision algorithms to read rapid in vitro diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria, helping healthcare professionals interpret and record test results. The app will be compatible with many brands and types of both RDTs and mobile devices, enabling broad use in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The Scanwell technology that interprets lateral-flow tests required by FIND is being used not only for malaria tests, but also serves as the basis for Scanwell's at-home antibody test for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). This test is under development and currently awaiting emergency use authorization from the FDA.
Diagnostics are crucial to global elimination of malaria. Scanwell's app will aid in case detection and help to ensure that patients receive the appropriate treatment, so they can be cured, and the chain of transmission can be broken. The Scanwell app will also support on-the-ground data collection and feed into regional and national digital surveillance systems designed to help combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR threatens the efficacy of antibiotics that we rely on every day, and its burden falls disproportionately on low- and middle-income countries, where health systems are often weak, resources are stretched, and "just in case" antibiotic prescribing is common.
Malaria RDTs are already widely used to test at-risk individuals in LMICs – however, the implementation of malaria RDTs has been linked, in cases with negative malaria results, to an increased use of antibiotics.1 Additionally, reading and interpretation of malaria RDTs is not always straightforward: one study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo found 25% of laboratory health workers were making frequent errors.2 The app developed by Scanwell aims to both reduce user error and also help healthcare workers to determine the specific strain of malaria so that the most appropriate treatment can be prescribed.
The partnership between FIND and Scanwell Health was inked in late 2019 following a robust request for proposal process that resulted in submission of 16 technologies that fit criteria defined by FIND. FIND will be testing the first iteration of the Scanwell Health app at healthcare facilities in collaboration with partners in three LMICs.
"We are honoured to be working with FIND on this important issue," said Stephen Chen, founder and CEO of Scanwell Health. "The rise of digital health has made healthcare more accessible, but the clinical diagnostics experience has lagged behind. Our modern approach eliminates the need to visit a doctor's office or lab for diagnostic tests, making our technology perfectly suited for field applications like FIND's. Scanwell plans to apply this lateral-flow test approach in several other areas, including our rapid at-home test for COVID-19."
"Malaria elimination and robust disease surveillance both depend on point-of-care testing that can be performed at the lowest levels of the healthcare system," said Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND. "Using technology to optimize the use of RDTs for better patient care, while also enabling the collection of critical data to inform policy decisions on AMR strategies – and potentially also pandemic response – is a double win."
The evaluation of the app is expected to be completed this year and implementation is anticipated to expand into 2–3 additional LMICs. The implementation will focus on connecting this app with existing digital tools at a community healthcare level and national surveillance systems for monitoring AMR.
This initiative is supported by the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), a UK aid programme.
About Scanwell Health
Scanwell Health makes healthcare more accessible through smartphone-enabled, at-home diagnostics. Scanwell's innovative approach lets people test from anywhere, skip the waiting room and get same-day results. By quickly diagnosing acute illnesses, chronic diseases and rare conditions, Scanwell accelerates the path to treatment. The company's first offering is the only FDA-cleared over-the-counter app that provides testing and treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Learn more at www.scanwellhealth.com
FIND is a global non-profit organization that drives innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics to combat major diseases affecting the world's poorest populations. Our work bridges R&D to access, overcoming scientific barriers to technology development; generating evidence for regulators and policymakers; addressing market failures; and enabling accelerated uptake and access to diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Since 2003, we have been instrumental in the development of 24 new diagnostic tools used in 150 LMICs. Over 50 million FIND-supported products have been provided to our target markets since the start of 2015. A WHO Collaborating Centre, we work with more than 200 academic, industry, governmental, and civil society partners worldwide, on over 70 active projects that cross six priority disease areas. FIND is committed to a future in which diagnostics underpin treatment decisions and provide the foundation for disease surveillance, control and prevention. For more information, please visit www.finddx.org
SOURCE Scanwell Health
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