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2020 predictions for healthcare IT from six industry experts

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

Advanced technologies have caused a significant impact on the development of the healthcare industry. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in particular, have allowed for significant breakthroughs in life science and healthcare research and treatments, whether that’s automating critical but repetitive tasks to free up time for clinicians, through to automatic speech recognition for faster disease diagnosis, or the ability to create synthetic controls for clinical trials. 

But with 75 per cent of healthcare enterprises planning to execute an AI strategy next year, there’s a far greater opportunity round the corner to further unleash its potential. Here, six experts from leading healthcare organisations including Brainomix, AiCure, HeartFlow, Cambridge Cognition, Oxford Brain Diagnostics and Zebra Medical Vision, share their views on what 2020 holds for the industry.

Brainomix - Dr Michalis Papadakis, CEO and Co-Founder of Brainomix

“As highlighted earlier this year, the NHS aims to become a world leader in AI and machine learning in the next five years. In 2020, we expect to see this become more apparent in practical terms with, AI technologies becoming the predominant driving force behind imaging diagnostics.

With around 780,000 people suffering a stroke each year in Europe, and 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, it is imperative we find ways to reduce the burden on healthcare organisations and improve time to disease detection.

The number of MRI and CT scans for example is already on the rise, and AI has the ability to read scans as accurately as an expert physician. Utilising these new technologies to review scans for any disease can reduce patient wait time and ease the burden on medical staff. There will be greater recognition next year of the value of AI in augmenting human performance.”

AiCure - Mario Nacinovich, Global Head, communications & marketing, AiCure

“The greatest challenges in deploying AI solutions in healthcare vary widely by application. In 2020 (and beyond), it comes down to ensuring that back-end processes gain greater efficiencies. From an administrative standpoint, making it easier for AI to integrate with existing technology infrastructure will certainly help adoption. From a societal standpoint, building greater trust in AI and protecting personal healthcare data will continue to be among the omnipresent challenges.

Within the clinical trials industry specifically, we can expect to see a number of key challenges in 2020 which technology - including AI - will help address.

Once identified and recruited, one of the biggest challenges in clinical trials are keeping subjects engaged and optimised to treatment. Medication non-adherence has been shown to increase variance, lower study power, and reduce the magnitude of treatment effects. AI will play a critical role in understanding how a drug is performing in real-time and how patients are responding in clinical research including medication adherence and their behaviour.

The adoption of new technologies in 2020 and beyond have the potential to provide clinicians with improvements in overall patient engagement, outcomes, quality of life, practicality in use, and reduce clinical development time and associated costs.”

HeartFlow - Charles Taylor, Founder, HeartFlow

“For me, 2020 will accelerate the development of the digital healthcare industry; a hybrid sector where medicine and cutting-edge technology converge to propel patient care forward. We’re starting to see more interest and investment in this fascinating field.

It’s an exciting time to be leading a company like HeartFlow, which is truly bilingual in healthcare and technology. Right now, we’re able to use medical imaging and AI to give physicians unprecedented insight into potentially life-threatening restrictions on blood flow within the body. But we’ve only just scratched the surface of what integration between information technology, computers and healthcare can achieve, and the expectations are high. I look forward to seeing how these challenges are met in the year ahead.”

Cambridge Cognition - Francesca Cormack PhD, Director of Research & Innovation at Cambridge Cognition

Digital biomarkers are the new frontier. The upward trajectory of digital capabilities over the last decade, combined with the widespread adoption of devices, has augmented biological markers with digital measures of disease progression.

In our field, it is now possible to use AI to enrich cognitive test scores with metrics that indicate cognitive effort i.e. the unique features of a patient’s voice that reveal when they are finding it particularly challenging to perform a task. Patients who are ostensibly performing within normal ranges but struggling to maintain that performance are likely suffering with the early stages of decline and could benefit from interventions that might slow or prevent further neurodegeneration.

Over the next year, we expect to see improvements in the precision of digital biomarkers for rapidly detecting neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The ultimate goal is to integrate digital biomarkers into clinical care and improve patient outcomes.

Oxford Brain Diagnostics - Dr Steven Chance, CEO at Oxford Brain Diagnostics

“Dementia remains highly complex in nature and requires extensive collaboration to succeed. Urgent action to address these challenges is needed today. By 2050, 152 million people will have the disease globally.

Unlocking new biomarkers, leveraging smarter science and deploying funds where they are needed most may give the industry a chance to defeat this terrible condition. We must re-focus our efforts and move quickly now towards examining the disease much earlier, allowing novel biomarkers to measure the progression more accurately and develop specific and targeted drug treatments for the range of dementias that exist.

National level support to develop more holistic brain health and screening programmes will demystify the brain, rationalise the fear of dementia, and ensure patients and families have the opportunity to embrace interventions in clinical trials earlier in their lives.”

Zebra Medical Vision - Eyal Gura, CEO and Co-Founder, Zebra Medical Vision

“With two billion people joining the middle class, a rising aging population and the growing shortage in medical experts, AI will be critical in enabling communities to provide productive and consistent health services. From medical imaging analysis to sensors and smart alerts, we are going to witness more improved and personalised care.

In 2020 we will see AI in deployment of hundreds of health networks globally and impact on millions of patient lives. AI has the power to transform patient care and empower radiologists to help with patient diagnosis. Our mission is to teach the Zebra software how to automatically interpret and formulate insights from medical images. Having a single AI solution that integrates seamlessly into existing workflows at an affordable rate, will support radiologists in delivering better patient care. Our platform allows healthcare institutions such as Intermountain Health, University of Virginia and Apollo hospitals to identify patients at risk of disease and initiate preventative treatment pathways.”

Dr Michalis Papadakis, CEO and Co-Founder of Brainomix
Mario Nacinovich, Global Head, communications & marketing, AiCure
Charles Taylor, Founder, HeartFlow
Director of Research & Innovation at Cambridge Cognition
Dr Steven Chance, CEO at Oxford Brain Diagnostics
Eyal Gura, CEO and Co-Founder, Zebra Medical Vision