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The #DutchTechHeroes Fighting COVID-19: Eva van Rikxoort, founder of Thirona

Dutch Tech Heroes Fighting COVID-19 is a new Techleap.nl initiative to showcase the startups which contribute to the fight against the coronavirus through their services and products. By answering three simple questions, they provide insight into how they help us survive and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In our series, we have Eva van Rikxoort, founder and managing director of Thirona.

Who are you?

“My name is Eva van Rikxoort and I am one of two founders and current Managing Director of Thirona. Thirona is a company that specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) for medical image analysis. We started in 2014 as a spin-off from the Radboud University in Nijmegen and have since built our company to 25 FTE and 20 part-time medical analysts. With our team, we develop artificial intelligence software to analyse chest CT scans, chest X-ray images and retina images. Healthcare specialists globally use our software for diseases like COPD, Asthma, tuberculosis and diabetic retinopathy. Our AI software for tuberculosis detection (CAD4TB), for example, has been used to screen more than 6 million people in over 40 different countries.”

How do you help fight COVID-19?

The WHO recommends that to confirm whether someone has COVID-19, you need to do a RT-PCR test (blood test). But radiology (both CT and X-ray) also play an important role as triage before this RT-PCR test. What we have done at Thirona is that we have built on our existing experience and expertise and developed both a CT and X-ray AI solution to help automatically identify COVID-19 in patients and inform healthcare specialists on what type of follow-up testing might be required. That way, we help alleviate the burden on these blood tests and save valuable time for healthcare specialists. Moreover, using AI, we can analyse these CT scans and X-ray images and quantify what percentage of the lung is affected by COVID-19. By doing that, we help track the disease progress and recovery in COVID-19 patients. We have called our solution CAD4COVID – Computer Aided Detection for COVID-19.”

What do you need to increase your impact on this crisis?

“We launched our CAD4COVID-Xray software on March 30th. Since then, we have already provided access to the software to healthcare facilities in over 12 countries. In parallel, we are working closely with hospitals both in the Netherlands (like Radboud UMC and Bernhoven Hospital) and internationally (with organizations across Africa, Asia and Europe) to validate the software. This week, we launch our CAD4COVID-CT software. Both solutions have been made available free-of-charge in support of the crisis. We have done that because we believe in the impact that CAD4COVID can have globally and we want to maximize that impact. But while we are scaling up and making it available to more people, for more facilities around the world, we are encountering costs such as storage. Therefore, we are still looking for partners willing to financially support the initiative, as well as institutions who can share their COVID-19 images to help further optimize the software.”

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