AI will re­shape health­care, says Michael Reit­er­mann.



WITH­OUT A DOUBT, digitalisation is shap­ing the fu­ture of health­care, while bring­ing the ma­jor ben­e­fits to pa­tients of more per­son­alised and pre­cise treat­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Michael Reit­er­mann, Siemens Health­i­neers AG manag­ing board mem­ber and chief op­er­a­tion of­fi­cer, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence-based so­lu­tions are al­ready turn­ing the vast amount of avail­able health­care data into ac­tion­able in­sights.

“This dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion will shape our un­der­stand­ing, di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of diseases, and will change the very na­ture of health­care towards more pre­cise, per­son­alised and affordable treat­ment,” said Reit­er­mann.

These tech­nolo­gies will im­prove the over­all pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence, he says. From more com­plete pa­tient records, to de­ci­sion sup­port tools to op­tions in re­mote mon­i­tor­ing, dig­i­tal en­hance­ments will put pa­tients in the po­si­tion of a con­sumer. It will al­low pa­tients to feel own­er­ship of their over­all care, along with con­fi­dence in the qual­ity of care they re­ceive.

“At Siemens Health­i­neers, we have been in­cor­po­rat­ing AI and other ma­chine learn­ing in our tech­nol­ogy for many years,” said Reit­er­mann.

“We al­ready have over 30 AI-en­riched of­fer­ings on the mar­ket, and we con­tinue to ex­pand our pool of data and part­ner­ships with cus­tomers to in­crease ac­cess to the data needed to fur­ther de­velop AI-based so­lu­tions.”

Digitalisation also helps re­duce the cost of health­care by au­tomat­ing re­cur­ring tasks and in­creas­ing ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity, he adds. He points to ex­am­ples: sam­ple-tube char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and re­sult in­ter­pre­ta­tion in the lab, and AIguided im­age in­ter­pre­ta­tion in ra­di­ol­ogy. The main as­sets for the age of AI are data, in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge, he says.

AI tech­nol­ogy im­proves the over­all pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, AI has de­vel­oped a 3D cam­era for com­puted to­mog­ra­phy sys­tems that po­si­tion the pa­tients in the isocen­tre to guar­an­tee the best pos­si­ble images at the low­est pos­si­ble dose.

Other use­ful the data gen­er­ated in the health­care ecosys­tem in­clude pa­tient records, pre­scrip­tions, along with ra­di­ol­ogy and lab­o­ra­tory test re­sults.

“We now also have con­sumer prod­ucts and wear­ables that generate a vast amount of be­havioural data.

“Such data on heart func­tion, sleep cy­cles, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, when com­bined with data from the ecosys­tem has the po­ten­tial to give us lead­ing in­di­ca­tors on the pa­tient’s health and qual­ity of life,” said Reit­er­mann. This opens unimag­in­able op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­son­alised high­qual­ity med­i­cal care.

“We can re­duce un­war­ranted vari­a­tions through ev­i­dence-based care path­ways,” Reit­er­mann said. “In­stead of hav­ing to con­sider de­ci­sions from many in­di­vid­ual doc­tors based on their own ex­pe­ri­ences, proven ther­a­pies based on a large amount of cu­rated and suc­cess­ful cases – thanks to AI – can pro­pose the best pos­si­ble treat­ment. Via digitalisation we can also close care gaps, such as avoid­ing missed fol­low ups or mak­ing sure that the han­dover from one physi­cian to the next physi­cian or to a re­hab fa­cil­ity is prop­erly man­aged.”

He added that digitalisation also al­lows for the re­mote ser­vice mon­i­tor­ing of sys­tems, avoid­ing un­nec­es­sary down­times – and so im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency and pa­tient care.

“We are now also tak­ing that data, via AI an­a­lyt­ics, to ac­tu­ally pre­dict pos­si­ble sys­tem fail­ures so that they can be ad­dressed be­fore they im­pact clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions,” said Reit­er­mann.

Asean health­care mar­ket

Health­care has be­come a higher pri­or­ity for many gov­ern­ments in the re­gion, as ev­i­denced by the har­mon­is­ing and scal­ing down of reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments to raise trans­parency in the health­care sec­tor.

It is see­ing pos­i­tive re­sults when it comes to in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties in dif­fer­ent coun­tries of the re­gion.

Like other re­gions around the world, the Asean health­care mar­ket is tran­si­tion­ing from pro­ce­dure-based to out­come-ori­ented health­care, and a stronger em­pha­sis on digitalisation should re­sult in more ben­e­fits for pa­tients, Reit­er­mann said.

“Asia Pa­cific is too di­verse a re­gion for a gen­eral re­sponse. Let’s fo­cus on the Asean bloc, where we see good over­all growth in the health­care mar­kets, fu­elled by pop­u­la­tion growth and a grow­ing mid­dle class,” said Reit­er­mann.

Role of ro­botic tech­nol­ogy

Medicine can be made both more ef­fi­cient and more pre­cise through ro­botic tech­nol­ogy, he says. It plays an im­por­tant role along the en­tire health­care con­tin­uum from di­ag­no­sis to treat­ment and af­ter­care.

“For ex­am­ple, two years ago, we launched a new an­giog­ra­phy sys­tem util­is­ing an in­dus­trial robot that per­forms scans up to 15 per cent faster, com­pared to a con­ven­tional sys­tem.

“The sys­tem also fol­lows the pa­tient on all ta­ble po­si­tions to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble imag­ing sup­port for their treat­ment, giv­ing a view of the body from vir­tu­ally any an­gle. This kind of imag­ing sys­tem is cru­cial for the fur­ther devel­op­ment of min­i­mally in­va­sive surgery,” said Reit­er­mann.

In ad­di­tion, it has an x-ray sys­tem that utilises ro­botic arms that can be pre­cisely po­si­tioned, en­abling all ar­eas of the body to be x-rayed in 3D while the pa­tient is in a nat­u­ral po­si­tion, rather than forced into awk­ward poses to meet the lim­i­ta­tions of a con­ven­tional x-ray sys­tem.

“And of course, there are sur­gi­cal ro­bots that can make dif­fi­cult pro­ce­dures eas­ier for a broader physi­cian base,” said Reit­er­mann.

Data pro­tec­tion and pa­tient pri­vacy

He said that the high­est pri­or­ity for hos­pi­tals is to pro­vide ex­cep­tional pa­tient care with­out in­ter­rup­tion.

It is cru­cial to be pro­tected against cy­berthreats, such as viruses or ran­somware, that may im­pair op­er­a­tions, com­pro­mise pa­tient data, cre­ate fi­nan­cial dam­age, or harm the over­all rep­u­ta­tion.

“When it comes to cy­ber­se­cu­rity, our vig­i­lance en­ables us to de­liver sys­tems that sup­port ef­forts to shield the health­care in­sti­tu­tion from threats while pro­tect­ing the pa­tient data. All equip­ment cur­rently un­der devel­op­ment and some ex­ist­ing of­fer­ings have built-in se­cu­rity con­trols that can be adapted to sup­port net­work re­quire­ments,” said Reit­er­mann.

Guided by a cen­tral set of se­cu­rity re­quire­ments and prod­uct- spe­cific threat and risk analy­ses, the com­pany de­vel­ops its equip­ment ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted stan­dards and pro­ce­dures, he says.

“Our com­pany- wide pro­cesses at Siemens Health­i­neers pro­vide strict guide­lines for mit­i­gat­ing risks posed by iden­ti­fied threats at any point, from equip­ment devel­op­ment to ser­vice pro­vi­sion.

“These guide­lines are con­stantly adapted and up­dated. Fur­ther­more, the FDA guid­ance for man­age­ment of cy­ber­se­cu­rity in med­i­cal de­vices has been em­bed­ded into our pro­cesses,” said Reit­er­mann.

Michael Reit­er­mann, of Siemens Health­i­neers, says the com­pany has more than 30 ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence-en­riched of­fer­ings in the health­care mar­ket.

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