AI is hot – from our ecosystem event in South Denmark

8th October 2019

Interesting Thoughts and AI Discussion

More than 180 participants showed up for the conferencce ”Ai in the Future Healthcare Sector” on 12th September 2019. The conference was characterized by strong expertise, exciting presentations and thoughts about the future, which laid the foundation for highly interesting contemplations.

Group Managing Director, Kurt Espersen, from the Region of Southern Denmark welcomed everyone to a day with state-of-the-art projects within artificial intelligence, from the fields of e.g. acute medicine, prehospital services and image diagnostics. The day was hosted by the Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark, Welfare Tech and Medcom in the context of the ECHAlliance South DENMARK eHealth ECOsystem.

Philip Maurer, Head of Customer Engineering at Google was the first in a long and strong line-up of experts. He described how artificial intelligence can contribute to solving multiple tasks, e.g. through facial recognition.

ALWAYS keep the patient at the centre!

He was followed by 10 presentations by researchers, clinicians and industry representatives. Several of the presentations emphasized and repeated the importance of keeping the patient at the centre when it comes to AI solutions.

Odense University Hospital, for example, underlined the overall purpose of improving the treatment for the patient. Head of Research and Professor at the University of Southern Denmark, Jane Clemensen, highlighted how AI, and technology in general, should never be regarded as anything other than a tool. It should not replace human contact between healthcare staff and patients – even if it is, admittedly, easy to fall in love with technology.

Head of Research and Professor at the University of Southern Denmark, Jane Clemensen

AI as a tool to review scans

With a humorous joint presentation, Chief Physician, Ole Graumann, OUH, and CEO, Robert Lauritzen, from Cerebriu, presented patient-oriented clinical radiology AI. The value of human contact was also underlined in this presentation. Ole Graumann described the challenge for the physician, who is currently expected to review countless scans throughout the day with equal concentration. In this context, AI is a tool that can solve a taxing task and free up time for the physician to focus on their primary task: patient contact. A point, which was supported by General Practitioner and Professor at Centre for General Practice at Aalborg University, Martin Bach Jensen, in his presentation about the possibilities for use of AI in general practice.

AI supports patient monitoring

Thomas Schmidt, Assistant Professor, Mærsk Mc-McKinney Møller Institute, provided a concreted example of a project, in which they had developed a system to support nurses in monitoring patients who are not high risk but can experience unexpected and fatal deterioration. The current system does not detect the variation in patient measurements that do not trigger an alarm. AI can help to identify this type of variations.

The companies, Enversion, Corti, MDClone and IBM provided the audience with an industry angle to the development of AI solutions for the healthcare sector. It was pointed out that the healthcare sector often moves very slow in relation to the more dynamic companies. According to Jacob Høy Berthelsen, CEO of Enversion, this is due to the number of parties wanting to have a say. As he said: ”The more partners, the lower the level of innovation”.

Hanan Drobiner, EU Sales Director i MDClone, provided a look into how synthetic data can supplement real data and thus open up new opportunities for research. Judging by the questions for his presentations, several people saw very interesting perspectives within this new field.

Mathias Karlsson, Chief Medical Officer at IBM presented some of their AI projects and how they are driven by an increasing need to employ digital solution – not for the sake of digitalisation but for the sake of the patients.

No answer is also a type of answer

Chief Technology Officer at Corti, Lars Maaløe, described the challenges of image recognition AI.

To make it more tangible, he described how AI can e.g. distinguish between pictures of dogs and cats but if AI is presented with a picture of a fox then it is in trouble. The AI would then categorise the fox as either a dog or car, even if the real answer would be “not known”. It is important that the AI knows not to provide an answer just to give an answer – e.g answering that a fox is a cat. Such a scenario where the AI provides a specific diagnosis  just to provide a diagnosis could potentially be catastrophic in a healthcare setting. This point became dominant in the final ethical debate, as it was discussed that decisions should always be made by a person in the end – AI should only be seen as a tool to support improved decision-making.

Lars Maaløe, Chief Technology Officer at Corti.

Final Debate

In the final debate, five experts discussed the themes of the day and the audience were asked to highlight the most pressing topics within AI so that the debate could focus on the most important potential- and challenge areas. Among the questions were how to avoid that the patient fears the technology, or the ethics of not using available data. Is this ethically justifiable? Finally, it was noted that it is important that our digital skills follow the technical development and that we do not sit on our hands since the development is ongoing. We have to be participate in and influence the development towards the right and applicable direction.

Altogether it was a brilliant day where many experiences were exchanged. Both the participants and the presenters expressed a big satisfaction with the conference’s focus, style, quality and general program. 90 % of participants gave the conference 4 out of 5 stars, and the rest gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Key Punchlines from the day

·         Involve the users in the process so that they are a part of the journey fra idea to implementation

·         Technical and clinical parties need to learn to speak the same language to reach the full potential and impact of artificial intelligence

·         Keep the patient at the centre – AI technology is merely a tool and should not steal the healthcare staff’s eyes towards a screen instead of a patient

·         It is important to have a more dynamic healthcare sector, which is flexible and able to move in different directions than it is today.

Extreme Interest

The interest in participating in the AI conference was overwhelming. In order to accommodate this interest we offered live-streaming so that the people who did not manage to obtain one of the available places in the event room could hear what the experts within AI in the healthcare sector had to say. No doubt the topic is currently highly interesting for many stakeholders in the healthcare sector.

More pictures from the conference are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdsi-arkiv/albums/72157710893957386 .

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