Artificial intelligence may future-proof Danish healthcare services

Medicine and medico technology Information technology
Artificial intelligence and big data are building blocks in the development of personal health technologies. 

These technologies can help people with chronic disorders and save billions in national healthcare services.

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data, and better system integration—virtually the whole package of the most hyped IT technologies is required to develop the next generation of smart and personal health technologies, but they can then enable people with chronic disorders to diagnose and treat themselves, thus reducing their need for many hospital visits and medical consultations.

The increasing longevity of the Danes is accompanied by an increase in the number of people living with chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and dementia. This has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for—and development of—health solutions for mobile phones, smartwatches, and biosensors which can help people with chronic disorders cope with their everyday life, keep symptoms under control, and maintain health and a good general condition, despite having a chronic disorder.

“But even though the first generation of personal health technologies help, they’re not sufficiently personal or technological to meet the challenges we’re facing as a society,” says Jakob E. Bardram, Professor at DTU Compute and director of the research centre Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (CACHET).

Personal health technology to the rescue of healthcare services
Simplistically put, much personal health technology is currently limited to combining data from very few sources with generic or statistical information about the patient’s chronic disorder. And even though this can be really useful in the day-to-day work, personal health technology must—according to Jakob Bardram—play a completely different and more important role in the future:

“There’s a need for a paradigm shift in terms of how we treat chronic disorders. They currently account for approximately two thirds of all admissions and medical visits, and the number of people with chronic disorders in Denmark—and in the rest of the world for that matter—will skyrocket in the years to come. We have to find a way to treat and care for people with chronic disorders without this requiring frequent admissions or medical visits; otherwise our healthcare system will break down. Personal health technology will play a key role in this transformation,” says Jakob E. Bardram.

In order to perform this task, the next generation of personal health technology will—according to Jakob E. Bardram—have to integrate the large volumes of data generated by patients’ daily activities, it must retrieve data from hospitals, doctors, the Health Platform, etc., and it must be able to learn from the data.

Knows more than doctors, patients, friends, and family put together
CACHET therefore uses artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, and better system integration as building blocks in the development of the next generation of personal health technologies:

“We’re working to develop personal health technology that knows more about the patient’s condition than the patient, doctor, hospital, family, and friends put together, and that is able not only to monitor the patient’s condition, but also to predict the need for—for example—extra medication or changed life style before this is indicated by noticeable symptoms. And if the need for treatment and medical consultation should nevertheless occur, the technology can function as an interface to the doctor’s assessment, remote diagnosis, remote treatment, etc.”

The combination of personal health technology and artificial intelligence can save patients with chronic disorders from hospitalizations, medical visits, and sickness days, improve their quality of life significantly, and save the Danish society billions of kroner. CACHET—which collaborates closely with the Danish healthcare services—has now come so far in its research that a future in which artificial intelligence in phones and wearables can both prevent and cure diseases is only a few years away—according to Jakob E. Bardram.