Pioneering Israeli data science projects tackle coronavirus crisis

“COVID-19 is a completely new disease, we still don’t know much about it,” said ARC head and Sheba’s Chief Medical and Innovation Officer Dr. Eyal Zimlichman.

Corona Data Challenge by ARC Innovation Center at the Tel Hashomer Sheba Medical Center (photo credit: SHEBA MEDICAL CENTER)
Corona Data Challenge by ARC Innovation Center at the Tel Hashomer Sheba Medical Center
(photo credit: SHEBA MEDICAL CENTER)
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, one critical challenge for medical staff worldwide has been the difficulty in predicting patients’ deterioration, especially when it comes to respiratory problems. This issue was tackled by several groups, including the winning Advanced Analytics, in the Corona Data Challenge organized by the Accelerate Redesign Collaborate (ARC) Innovation Center at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.
The final round was held on Thursday, when the six finalists selected among the 15 teams who submitted a proposal out of the 33 participants presented their solutions.
The initiative was launched in March and aimed at encouraging data scientists, startups and other relevant actors to find solutions to help doctors save lives.
“COVID-19 is a completely new disease, we still don’t know much about it,” said ARC head and Sheba’s Chief Medical and Innovation Officer Dr. Eyal Zimlichman in his opening remarks. “Three months ago we knew even less, but we were aware that data and artificial intelligence would be playing a critical role in understanding more. It was important for us to use our ability to streamline research.”
Sheba decided to offer the data collected from their patients to those who could use them to come up with new insights. The participants were able to work employing the data offered by the hospital.
Most teams focused on the necessity to understand more about predicting the course of the disease, a crucial challenge to decide the appropriate venue to treat the patients – at home or in the hospital – as well as to foresee the need to ventilate them.
Some groups, like HOSP, created a system aimed at offering doctors a comprehensive view of each patient’s situation, including his or her medical history and factors such as the presence of a high-risk person in their household, to help medical professionals to make an assessment.
Among the other ideas pitched was creating a system capable of reading and processing relevant medical literature to allow physicians to access the knowledge easily to make informed decision, as proposed by the startup Kahun. In tackling the coronavirus challenge, the team also validated the information collected in different academic articles on the disease against the data emerging from patients at Sheba, in order to understand the most reliable and relevant papers.
The participants also had the opportunity to consult with Sheba’s experts, to better understand their needs and learn about relevant medical topics such as infectious diseases and viruses.
The winning project by Advanced Analytics will be implemented at Sheba and validated at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
For them and for all groups, “we don’t see this competition as a competition, but as a community and a marketplace,” highlighted Zimlichman. “This is not the end of the collaboration, but just the beginning.”