Hospitals, Artificial Intelligence

AdventHealth, BERG join forces to enhance Covid-19 care

The health system and biotech company are collaborating to create a Covid-19 patient registry biobank, which will combine de-identified patient data and AI technology to identify characteristics and trends that have an impact on disease outcomes.

AdventHealth, a health system based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, has partnered with BERG, a clinical-stage biotech company, to improve care and reduce death risk for Covid-19 patients.

The collaboration comes as more than 11 million people in the United States have contracted the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 250,000 people have died from it, according to a New York Times database.

The collaboration includes the creation of a patient registry biobank that will bring together BERG’s artificial intelligence-powered analytics technology and a trove of de-identified data from patients tested for Covid-19 at AdventHealth, which includes more than 50 hospitals in nine states. The dataset will include all patients tested for the disease at AdventHealth facilities, whether they tested positive or negative.

“This is really a marriage made in heaven,” Dr. Steven Smith, chief scientific officer at AdventHealth, said in a phone call. “We really see this marriage as a collaboration between an innovative healthcare system and an innovative AI biotech. And really our aim is to drill into the diversity within the diversity of our datasets and really use an unbiased approach to try and understand what separates progression from recovery, who’s getting Covid-19 versus not, who may get it and not have a severe case, just a mild case. This mountain of data here is really going to be incredibly important for us to make progress against Covid-19.”

The dataset also includes patient information not related to Covid-19. BERG will use its AI technology to analyze the data, glean patterns and trends, and report those back to AdventHealth, which will use the information to inform clinical care.

“We know that diversity is key for Covid-19,” Smith said. “There are layers of diversity that sit on top of the simple metrics, such as race and ethnicity. So that’s what we are really going after.”

There will be two phases of the collaboration. In the first phase, algorithms will be applied to molecular and laboratory data, in addition to clinical data, Dr. Niven Narain, BERG co-founder, president and CEO, said in a phone call. The company will then share with AdventHealth initial insights on whether specific elements in a patient’s genetic make-up predispose them to certain types of Covid-19 outcomes.

The second phase will involve validating those insights against other patient data stored in EHRs to see if any other patterns emerge, like patterns related to medication they are taking or where they live.

“What excites me about this is the type of data that is going to be put into our system, not only the molecular, laboratory or clinical data, but also the demographic access points, the real-world evidence, really allows us to posit [what] are key drivers in [Covid-19] outcomes — both good and bad,” Narain said.

“We need to understand not only the ‘who’ in the context of those who’ve lost their lives or who have the advanced cases of Covid, but we also have to seek the answers of ‘why,'” he added.

In the future, the organizations plan to extend their collaboration to other conditions, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease — which Narain believes is the next cancer-in-waiting.

“We need to get ahead of it,” he said. “And it is going to take these types of partnerships [to do that].”

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