Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are happening at a much quicker pace than anyone could have predicted. This emerging technology is now being used by businesses and is even finding its way into consumer products. One industry that has fully embraced AI is healthcare and doctors and other hospital staff are using advanced machine learning algorithms to solve problems in new ways. TechRadar Pro spoke with HeartFlow's Founder and Chief Technology Officer Charles A. Taylor to learn more about how the company is using deep learning to build 3-D models of patients' hearts to provide doctors with a safer and more effective way of diagnosing cardiovascular disease. HeartFlow has pioneered technology to help clinicians diagnose coronary heart disease (CHD).
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the leading causes of death in the UK; it's responsible for more than 66,000 deaths each year, and it's estimated that 2.3 million people in the UK are currently living with the disease. Imaging is an important part of diagnosing people and managing treatment with a range of cardiovascular diseases, and the NHS uses Echo, MRI and CT scans to do this. A CT scan is used to do a coronary CT angiography, which involves taking images of the heart blood vessels and using the CT scan with some dye contrast into the blood vessels. This enables doctors to see if blood vessels are narrowing, causing patients to have chest pain or angina. The test has been around for the last 10 or 15 years but has increased in usage as radiation doses have decreased dramatically.
Information Age discusses how artificial intelligence is transforming the NHS, and its potential in other sectors too with Charles A. Taylor, founder and chief technology officer at HeartFlow. The potential for AI in healthcare is tremendous as it increasingly becomes integrated into the healthcare ecosystem. AI is transforming the way doctors deliver cost-effective, high-quality diagnostic and treatment services to their patients. For example, the technology can identify patterns and anomalies in diagnostic data from medical scans at a speed and volume that humans are simply unable to replicate. The processing power of AI has applications far beyond providing simple diagnoses.
Healthcare is a world of perverse incentives. One person's waste is another person's annual bonus. If you have shares in Novo Nordisk, you don't really want people to eat more fruits and vegetables, because then sales of diabetes meds might drop. The same is true on a larger scale for hospital systems that get paid to conduct tests and perform surgeries instead of keeping people healthy. It doesn't pay--yet--to keep people healthy.
Artificial intelligence that rapidly spots blocked arteries in CT scans could be rolled out on the NHS next year. The technology, created by $1.5bn US medtech start-up Heartflow, virtually models a patient's heart and blood vessels from CT scans on an iPad or iPhone. It can then simulate blood flow and model potential blockages so doctors can draw up early treatments for coronary heart disease. Earlier this month, the company gained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. It believes it will receive clearance in the UK for its Planner technology before the end of the year to pave the way for a launch by mid-2020.