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CSIRO Scientists Leads Study to Develop Lifesaving Tech

Image Credits: CSIRO, Press Release

Scientists from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have led a study to develop a machine learning tool which provides an early warning to medical professionals of a patient’s deteriorating condition.

The study, which was published in Nature: Scientific Reports, was conducted alongside Princess Alexandra Hospital and Metro South Health. The study showed that early warning deterioration alerts can be set to monitor patients two to eight hours before they are triggered by current clinical criteria.

CSIRO scientist Dr Sankalp Khanna noted that medical professionals will now be able to use the data contained in electronic medical records (EMRs) to predict when a patient’s vital signs such as blood pressure or temperature are likely to reach a danger zone, triggering patient decline.

With the massive amount of data in the EMR comes the potential for better patient care. For example, the information from the data can be used to help medical staff make decisions that can prevent a patient’s deterioration from adverse events and acute illness. Up until recently, and still, in some hospitals, patient data was not available electronically, restricting the capacity to develop digital tools to benefit from it.

He noted that this is the first time there has been a way to harness all the data in the EMR to predict patient health. This new tool has the potential to transform the day-to-day functioning of health systems. When applied to a test cohort of 18,648 patient records, the tool achieved 100% sensitivity for prediction windows two to eight hours in advance for patients that were identified at 95%, 85% and 70% risk of deterioration.

CSIRO scientists hold expertise in transforming data into usable information to help guide clinical choices. In addition, the new tool puts forth the reasons for the warning, which can guide the choice of intervention. The alerts warn medical staff when a patient is at risk of deterioration leading to possible death, cardiac arrest, or unplanned admission to ICU. The tool can notify of the need for clinical intervention. Clinical decision support tools such as these are a pre-emptive solution that can provide medical staff with an opportunity to intervene earlier to prevent adverse patient outcomes.

An Intensive Care Unit Staff Specialist at Princess Alexandra Hospital’s intensive care unit, Dr David Cook noted that the project is a genuinely useful, and implementable way of managing unexpected patient deterioration across a large hospital.

He said that it occurs without process duplication and does not interfere with established best practice systems which are used to recognise sick and deteriorating ward patients. CSIRO scientists are now in discussion with partners for a clinical trial to explore how the alerts work and how they can be best implemented into clinical workflows.

The Biotechnology in Australia strategic plan articulates the range of Australian Government initiatives that support the entire biotechnology ecosystem. It puts forward three pillars of Government support for health and medical applications of biotechnology and signals how current initiatives align.

Moreover, it provides a framework for the coordination of future commitments that aim to identify and address gaps as they emerge across investments, infrastructures, skills and capabilities.

The long-term Australian Government’s Plan for biotechnology in health and medicine focuses on three key pillars:

  • Pillar 1 – Supporting world-class research and development by strategically investing in areas of need and driving strong partnerships between academia, government science organisations, industry, health services, and consumers.
  • Pillar 2 – Facilitating high-quality and secure clinical development that attracts global interest by continuously improving research capabilities, processes, and infrastructure thus ensuring they remain or become globally competitive.
  • Pillar 3 – Accelerating commercialisation through partnerships and collaborations between academics, government science organisations, and industry; fit-for-purpose regulation; and by supporting the development of advanced manufacturing capabilities for biopharma and med-tech products.


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