The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded Vibrent Health, a digital health technology company powering the future of precision health research, the second phase of a contract to validate COVID-CARE, a digital health solution for pandemic response. The web and mobile application will enable fast and accurate screening, automated test kit shipping, and contact tracing for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Vibrent Health built the web-based and mobile application on its versatile Digital Health Solutions Platform, which also serves as the consumer-facing technology platform of the one-million person NIH All of Us Research Program.
“The new reality is that herd immunity may be unachievable or fleeting because of vaccine hesitancy and emergence of new variants,” said Vibrent Health CEO Praduman “PJ” Jain. “Despite recent declining COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., there is an urgent and constant need to implement the latest technologies to combat this virus and to prevent future pandemics.”
While immediately addressing challenges in fighting COVID-19, this contract will fund the creation of the infrastructure NIH and other response organizations need to immediately respond to future infectious disease outbreaks by using technology to compress response timelines and better control the spread of disease. Vibrent Health’s solution was one of seven ideas selected by NIH from more than 200 proposals to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
In a NIH news release that announced awards for digital health technologies, dated September 15, 2020, NCI Director Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, M.D., said “The tools these organizations plan to develop could allow us to use containment efforts, like COVID-19 testing, social distancing, and quarantine, precisely when and where they’re needed. That might let more people return to less restricted living and reduce the risk of devastating local outbreaks. We are working as quickly as possible to help businesses and universities develop innovative tools to achieve this goal.”
COVID-CARE will be available to all people living in the U.S. and utilize easy-to-use applications. This screening tool will indicate if a test is medically needed, promoting better decision making about what to do next, such as quarantining or seeking care. Precision screening through the tool reduces unnecessary tests by individuals who are not likely infected, saving costs associated with test kits, doctor’s visits and laboratory fees. Digital screening will also be more convenient for users who will not need to travel to a testing site.
Based on results from Vibrent Health’s AI-powered screening tool, if a COVID-19 test is medically indicated, the app prompts shipping of an in-home test kit, delivered the same day to the person. The results from the test are available within 15 minutes. Faster testing allows individuals and their doctors to act more quickly to keep the individual safe and to help stop disease transmission.
In addition to screening and testing capabilities, COVID-CARE provides for accelerated contact tracing. Individuals who receive a positive test result can choose to use the app to discreetly notify close contacts, so that those persons can screen themselves using the app, determine if a test is medically indicated and take appropriate steps to help stop the spread of the virus.
“There is a lot of emotional stress and burden on individuals when there is a concern of an infection,” said Jain. “With this solution, individuals will not need to find a testing site or try to decipher information from multiple sources. Our AI-driven digital health solution is transformative as it provides for precision testing at the right time for everyone. It also accommodates underserved populations across the country and helps bridge the digital divide. The pandemic has heightened awareness of how data-driven health technology accelerates response time and offers convenience and cost savings to all involved.”
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds under Contract No. 75N91020C00038, as a component of the Congressionally supported response to COVID-19 from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.