Artificial intelligence that doesn't skip a beat
With the ability to write a short essay in a matter of seconds, and the potential to become an autopilot in your next car, the evolution and use of artificial intelligence (AI) appears near infinite.
Nepean Hospital cardiologist trains clinicians to use AI integrated sonography machine for echocardiograms
In health care, things are no different with its application beginning to transform the way we deliver services, ensuring improved accessibility for patients and enhanced education for staff.
A research trial underway at Nepean Hospital, alongside the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, is currently using AI to assist in the training of clinicians to perform sophisticated echocardiograms – more commonly referred to as an ultrasound of the heart.
The AI is programmed into a sonography machine and guides the clinician as they place the ultrasound probe in an optimal position to capture the best possible image of a heart.
Helping heal the heart
Leading the trial at Nepean Hospital is PhD student, Christopher Yu, who along with the cardiology department, sees this as an opportunity to not only upskill clinicians who don’t have specialist training, but also provide earlier diagnosis, treatment and better outcomes for patients.
“AI isn’t going to replace clinicians any time soon. It’s a tool we can use to help support the care we provide and extend it to communities who are challenged in accessing vital health services, bringing heart care closer to home,” says Christopher.
“Our trial has seen us train nurses from Walgett in the state’s north. We provide them the tools and the expertise to take this AI powered machine away and bring it back to their hometown to independently perform.”
AI instructs the user how to operate the ultrasound probe
For communities such as Walgett getting an ultrasound scan of this type would require an almost six hour round trip to Dubbo.
Melissa Nathan from Walgett Aboriginal Medical Services was among the first clinicians to receive training at Nepean Hospital and describes the new service offering as invaluable.
“We see a lot of chronic and complex clients who are afflicted with cardiac, diabetes and renal problems. Performing a procedure like this is well beyond the normal scope of services here at Walgett,” says Melissa.
“The technology is very intuitive and lets us know how we can perform the task better to get the desired results. Once everything is captured it gets sent to a cloud-based server for a specialist to then interpret.”
Bridging the gap
Dr Faraz Pathan, cardiologist and cardiovascular imaging specialist at Nepean Hospital explains that this technology is just another way in which we can improve access to health care to some of the most remote communities across the country.
“We are very fortunate to have at Nepean such a driven team that wants to build upon the capacity of this technology,” says Faraz.
“We have a world-renowned clinical education program and we want to share the spoils of our labour. Through the development of tools such as the AI assisted echocardiogram, we can deliver our expertise to clinicians near and far and give them the confidence to perform more advanced procedures such as this to those people who are in desperate need.”
“From Woollahra to Walgett, Bondi to Bourke, Darling Harbour to Dubbo, we understand that there are health disparities for urban and regional areas. We’re proud to take up the challenge to upskill and empower colleagues in rural and remote regions to bridge the gap and create better health outcomes for all.”