The City of Edmonton is launching what is described as a “first of its kind” artificial intelligence project that will examine healthcare data to better predict frailty and its impact on chronic diseases, which nurse practitioners say may help identify and alleviate unknown gaps in patient health.
The project, announced Friday at the Senior’s Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE) is a result of a collaboration between multiple companies. It includes Health City, a municipal economic development initiative to further innovation in Edmonton’s health care sector, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., a pharmaceutical company, and AltaML, a local artificial intelligence company.
The partnership uses artificial intelligence to examine existing data to better predict frailty and its impact on chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
The “core issue” is how, by building tools through machine learning and artificial intelligence, existing data can be used to help clinicians make better decisions for patient care, such as preventative rather than acute care, said Cory Janssen, CEO of AltaML.
“There’s already this massive, massive amount of it in the system that no human can actually process that all at once,” said Janssen.
“When encountering all this massive amount of data in the system, we know there’s a lot of cases that are getting acute (care), so how can you actually intervene quicker so you can have a better health outcome before it gets to that acute stage.”
For nurse practitioners Anne Summach, director of health services at SAGE, and Tammy O’Rourke, scientific director of health services at SAGE, the opportunities in furthering patient care are exciting.
Summuch said as nurse practitioners, they spend more time with individuals and see the health complexities that come with social issues.
She said housing, income, family and caregiver supports, and chronic disease can contribute to frailty or people’s resilience.
“Often in our health system we don’t have access to all of that information at once and I know that’s what they’re trying to do with the project, is to diversify the information and bring it together for people to make better clinical decisions,” said Summach.
O’Rourke uses the example of how homelessness can affect health care, especially for seniors.
“ If a senior comes in and they’re just about to lose their home, what is the likelihood they’re able to spend the time and energy into self-management of chronic diseases? It’s very limited,” said O’Rourke.
By using AI technology, it can provide a different perspective and new ideas on patient care that may not have been thought of before, O’Rourke added.
For Summach, it’s important that systems think about people and how to support them as an individual.
“I f we’re missing pieces and those are the gaps, and we’re not supporting them in some sort of their wellness, they’re going to suffer,” said Summach.
“There’s no flexibility or give in the system if you don’t have support for the individual. That’s what integration is about and that’s what we’re excited about here at SAGE.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019