Big opportunities come with equally big challenges. That is definitely the case when it comes to using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare. We are only just beginning to imagine what will be possible in 5, 10 or 30 years from now thanks to Big Data and AI – from prevention to improved diagnostics, to personalized treatments and more efficient workflows.
While the technologies are maturing and more innovations find their way into clinical practice, the challenges that come with Big Data and AI are also becoming clearer. They are not only technological, but also involve legal, and ethical issues. A holistic approach is therefore required that goes beyond the technological aspects.
How can the European healthcare sector, which is already relatively fragmented, be transformed to leverage solutions based on Big Data and AI in a holistic way?
Over the past three years, 35 players in the healthcare industry worked together on 12 real-life Big Data and AI pilots across Europe in a variety of healthcare settings.
The results and main findings of this EU-funded project, called BigMedilytics, were presented during a closing event co-hosted by Philips, one of the key project participants.
Largest project funded by the European Commission
“Having received 15 million euros in funding, the BigMedilytics project is one of the largest projects to have been funded by the European Commission dealing with the use of Big Data in healthcare,” said Supriyo Chatterjea, Data & AI Scientist at Philips, who led the project. “Often, there is a tendency to think that Big Data projects are just about applying the latest AI algorithms to large data sets and that if your algorithm performs well, you have a winning solution.
But healthcare is complex. Rolling out successful Big Data projects in healthcare at scale requires intense collaboration between people with highly diverse backgrounds, who usually don’t collaborate with one another. I’m referring to clinicians, patients, data scientists, hospital decision makers, IT personnel, policy makers and even lawyers.”
Rolling out successful Big Data projects in healthcare at scale requires intense collaboration between people with highly diverse backgrounds, who usually don’t collaborate with one another.
Data & AI Scientist at Philips
Close collaboration with clinical partners
In the BigMedilytics project, Philips collaborated closely with several clinical partners. In collaboration with Karolinska hospital (Sweden), an oncology solution was developed that demonstrated how digitization of the workflow around treatment decision-making and treatment execution and the use of AI-based risk models can help treat prostate cancer patients more effectively.
In collaboration with the OLVG hospital (The Netherlands), Philips developed PerformanceFlow – a solution for, among other things, the management of mobile medical equipment based on real-time location technology, which can also be used to optimize hospital workflows.
Supriyo: “Annually, approximately 38% of nurses suffer from burnout, with 28% of nurses quitting within three years. At the same time, nurses can spend up to 30% of their time just searching for equipment. The PerformanceFlow solution that we developed together with OLVG, which was funded by BigMedilytics, eliminates the search time through the use of real-time location information so that nurses can focus on what really matters – providing patients with quality care.”
The PerformanceFlow solution that we developed together with OLVG, which was funded by BigMedilytics, eliminates the search time through the use of real-time location information so that nurses can focus on what really matters – providing patients with quality care.
Data & AI Scientist at Philips
Together with the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (The Netherlands) and the Incliva Biomedical Research Institute (Spain), Philips analyzed and optimized stroke and sepsis workflows in the Emergency Department based on real-time location and clinical data. Results showed that real-time location data of patients, assets, and staff can be combined to improve data quality and help accurately identify the bottlenecks in workflows.
“The ultimate goal is that the lessons learned from BigMedilytics can help to navigate through Europe’s relatively fragmented healthcare sector in order to achieve sustained improvement of people’s lives across the continent, and the rest of the world,” said Hans Hofstraat, Vice President at Philips Research.
The lessons learned from the various pilots have been put together to develop the BigMedilytics Blueprint – an interactive website mapping the different technical and non-technical aspects across various use cases, stakeholders, and the health continuum. The blueprint is designed to be used by key players within the healthcare sector to scale up the adoption of Big Data technologies across Europe.
The project identified how the rules and regulations of different countries influence the uptake of Big Data technologies in the healthcare sector. It also provides insights into the factors that hinder and support the adoption of Big Data technologies through the use of causal models. In addition, it describes how to measure the value of Big Data technologies on different levels and presents a methodology to develop business models for the development and implementation of Big Data technology.
Reinforcing the connection between healthcare provider and patient
The event was concluded by a panel discussion in which participants discussed next steps and important learnings.
“BigMedilytics has shown the opportunities of digital healthcare solutions, and provided clear direction on how to leverage them,” said Hans Hofstraat. “The project also demonstrated how important it is to innovate for solutions that reinforce the connection between care provider and patient. The greatest opportunity offered by Big Data and AI is not reducing errors or workloads or supporting clinical research. It is the opportunity to reinforce the precious and time-honored connection and trust between patients and doctors.”
Professor Dr. Klemens Budde van het Charité University Hospital
Professor Dr. Klemens Budde from Charité University Hospital (Germany) added, “A European project usually ends, and all parties go back to business as usual. However, the collaboration and the network created in BigMedilytics is really strong. The spirit that together we really achieved something! I am sure that we will continue to reach out to each other and together make this transformation really work.”