Chinese tech giant Tencent and healthcare firm Medopad are working with the Parkinson's Center of Excellence at King's College Hospital in London to develop an AI-enabled software that can detect signs of Parkinson's within minutes. In comparison, current motor function assessments take about half an hour.
"The goal of Tencent and Medopad's collaboration is to help expand the remit of AI-powered movement assessment, from sport and exercise to medicine, and to reduce the cost of motor function assessment," Dr. Wei Fan, head of Tencent Medical AI Lab, said in a statement. "This technology can help promote early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, screening, and daily evaluations of key functions."
Medopad's technology uses a smartphone camera to monitor patients' fine motor movements; it instructs patients to open and close a fist while it measures the amplitude and frequency of their finger movements, which the app converts into a graph for clinicians. The goal is to eventually teach the system to calculate a symptom severity score automatically.
The ongoing trials seek to determine whether treatment decisions informed by Medopad's suite of apps meaningfully improve symptoms. If successful, the next step for Tencent and Medopad is to conduct tests in health systems in the U.S., New Zealand, and China.
"Our partnership with Tencent comes from a shared vision to change the future of health care as we know it," Medopad CEO and founder Dan Vahdat told Bloomberg. "In combining Medopad's medical expertise and Tencent's technical capabilities, we hope to provide the technology needed to support clinicians to predict preventable complications for people with Parkinson's disease. Working together, we can achieve our vision to help more than 1 billion patients live longer and continue doing great work."
Earlier this year, Medopad inked deals worth $131 million with a number of Chinese companies (including Tencent), and has projects in Germany, Singapore, and China. In September, the company acquired San Francisco-based Sherbit, which uses personal data to uncover health insights through sensors, devices, and apps.
It is estimated that roughly 600,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year, contributing to the more than 10 million people worldwide already living with the neurodegenerative disease.