Imperial College London to launch COVID-19 information platform

The new project will build a global information knowledge platform to help the healthcare industry deliver more efficient care to COVID-19 patients.
By Sara Mageit
10:04 AM

A new platform led by Imperial College London and enabled by Amazon Web Services (AWS) will pool global data on COVID-19 from over half a million sources in response to the ‘infodemic’.

The platform is called REDASA (REaltime Data Analysis and Synthesis) and is being developed by PanSurg, a COVID-19 surgical network made up of Imperial College London’s healthcare professionals and academics.

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An excessive amount of information has been seen amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, making it hard for people to find trustworthy sources.

The World Health Organisation has described it as an ‘infodemic’, stating that it has created “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.

Healthcare workers are faced with the onerous task of cutting through mounds of information for possible treatments of COVID-19 patients.

This new project is responding to the ‘infodemic’ by streamlining information with the creation of a global knowledge platform.

Combining artificial intelligence with human expertise, the platform enables the healthcare industry to make sense of this wide range of information and find treatments for COVID-19.

REDASA will analyse vast amounts of COVID-19 information in real-time and extract the most important insights, saving tens of thousands of hours previously required for manual research. 

THE LARGER TREND

Between December 2019 to May this year, more than 300,000 articles were published on the topic of COVID-19 treatment, excluding internet comments which are classed as ‘grey’ literature. 

PanSurg, based at Imperial College London’s Department of Surgery and Cancer and Institute of Global Health Innovation, was established in response to this challenge.

James Kinross, consultant surgeon and clinical senior lecturer in colorectal surgery for Imperial College London, said: “Firstly, we needed to educate people about this new disease, with new challenges and no roadmap. Secondly, we needed to cut through the noise by measuring what was happening across the board. Finally, we needed to innovate, because major catastrophes always demand new ways of thinking.”

REDASA’s next steps will be to curate the data more accurately by building new machine learning processes into the system, with goal of creating a fully autonomous system.

ON THE RECORD

Kinross added: “The current pandemic has given rise to a huge amount of material on COVID-19 scattered across a vast range of sources, but there was limited guidance and consensus on how best to deliver care for coronavirus patients. REDASA can address these issues.”

“Although the public might think about an ‘infodemic’ in terms of unverified information in the news, for clinicians like myself the challenge is slightly different. We were facing information overload – a tidal wave of research and opinion from around the world.”

“REDASA will allow clinicians at all levels to achieve this in a few minutes. Using AWS architecture also means that we can build the technology and methodology four or five times quicker than it might otherwise have taken.”

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