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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Health pods installed in Dubai government offices will collect workers' data

Artificial intelligence used to identify health trends to help doctors

Bodyo health pods that scan for vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate should help doctors spot the early signs of illness. Victor Besa / The National
Bodyo health pods that scan for vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate should help doctors spot the early signs of illness. Victor Besa / The National

Health pods that perform general check-ups on their users within minutes will collect population data in Dubai as part of a year-long study to improve worker wellness.

The pods will be installed at government departments across the emirate for the duration of the pilot study.

Bodyo is one of four companies to sign agreements with Dubai Health Authority to use emerging technology to improve health and wellness.

The company’s health pods have been chosen to take part in the trial following an intensive nine-week testing period as part of the Dubai Future Accelerators program.

“We are awaiting to hear back from the DHA where these pods will be positioned but we are anticipating they will be used by the ‘big six’ government entities in Dubai,” said Tariq Hussain, Bodyo’s chief executive.

“The first pods will be ready in mid-August and the agreement means we can roll these out to a number of government entities over the next 12 months for a pilot study.

“We will be able to monitor the health and wellness of certain populations, mainly Emiratis, so we can track certain health conditions like chronic heart disease and those related to blood sugars.”

Although not yet confirmed, pods could be stationed at the DHA, Dewa, RTA, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality and at Emirates Airline.

Users can be screened for body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure, body composition and other vital parameters, free of charge.

In just 13 minutes, the AI-assisted pod can give an indication of health state and advise where to go for a preventive check-up.

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Users can log in with their Emirates ID, or finger print once they’ve signed up, and continue to monitor their progress and health statistics via a mobile phone application due in August.

The app will be compatible with more than 60 wearable health monitoring devices currently available.

Personal data will not be shared, although Bodyo will have access to aggregate data to assess populations within each government department.

That information can then be used by DHA to assess improvements or requirements for health services.

“We’re quite open that the data is not 100 per cent accurate, but we are not there to prognose, rather detect patterns and trends,” Mr Hussain said.

“Bodyo is already at 84 per cent accuracy, and that will only improve in the near future as the technology develops.

“If we can show someone has increasing blood pressure over a period of time, they should consult a healthcare professional.

“It is not about removing the need for doctors or nurses, rather making their jobs easier.

“Those who understand how telehealth and digital healthcare can work, see the benefits.

“Data does not have to be 100 per cent accurate to make a difference.”

Similar models using technology to prevent chronic health problems are being used elsewhere.

In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May has committed ‘millions of pounds’ in funding for research toward AI that can diagnose cancer and chronic diseases at an early stage.

It is hoped such technology would reduce avoidable deaths, saving as many as 22,000 lives a year there by 2033, it has been estimated.

Bodyo’s health analysis AiPods were one of just four out of 677 applicants selected by DHA to create solutions for problems facing society.

The other three companies selected for further trials under the agreement are the Babylon health app, using AI to deliver video consultations with doctors around the world, a stroke-detecting neuro headband and sensors to detect vital signs in intensive care.

“The DHA is keen to be at the forefront of the transformation to establish an integrated global platform for the future of the strategic sectors, and create economic value based on adopting future businesses and technological solutions,” said DHA director general Humaid Al Qatami.

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