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Digital health: using AI to prevent heart attacks

The University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre has been awarded Australia’s inaugural Google.org AI Impact Challenge prize.

It will receive $1 million and expert support to develop a customised digital health program powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The program will aim to reduce the risk of heart attack, which is the biggest cause of death globally.

The digital health program

According to a recent press release, the digital health program, which is initially centred around Western Sydney health services, will deliver tailored advice and nudges using machine learning to participants who have presented at hospital with chest pain, harnessing their digital footprint to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

It is believed that the accuracy of risk assessment will be improved by combining clinical and consumer-derived data with AI while creating more adaptive digital health solutions.

Consumer-derived data includes those from mobile phone apps and wearables.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews described the project as the perfect example of how technology, combined with human know-how, can deliver incredible real-world benefits.

Digital healthcare will not only save lives and reduce costs, it also has the potential to grow the economy and create new jobs.

AI has the potential to transform health care globally from crisis management to prevention.

The Problem

Modifiable risk factors account for over 90% of the risk of heart attack worldwide.

Chest pain is the second most common reason people present to emergency department in Australia and may be an early warning sign.

The early identification and monitoring could prevent patients returning to hospital suffering a heart attack but currently this is poorly done.

AI-driven digital health interventions have the potential to be the game changer because the technology would enable patients to be monitored while they go about their daily lives.

How AI will help prevent heart attack

Digital health interventions and therapeutics, such as text messages and smartphone apps, had been the cornerstone of innovative research at the Centre.

AI driven adaptive digital solutions connecting the health services could transform care for patients and populations because they could lead to earlier identification of at-risk individuals.

It can also enable better access prioritisation based on risk, and provide greater customisation of management and monitoring intensity based on individual risk.

A cardiologist and researcher at the Centre explained that AI could harness data to create digital health programs which allow greater efficiency in health care delivery.

The Westmead Applied Research Centre

The Westmead Applied Research Centre is a major initiative of the University and was launched last year in collaboration with the Western Sydney Local Health District.

It focuses on translational research addressing chronic illness and their causes.

The new customised digital health solution will be delivered as part of the Living Lab strategy at Westmead.

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