Everyone would like to feel considered unique, even more so patients who dream of a therapy based on their symptoms, the phase of the disease they are experiencing at that precise moment and their physical, mental and genetic characteristics. In short, a customization that is as tailored as possible. This objective is now possible also thanks to Artificial Intelligence which, by integrating with human intelligence, can truly aspire to something similar.
This is what we are trying to do with the OncologIA project which experiments with a digital twin of the person, allowing doctors and caregivers to constantly have a complete and integrated clinical picture of the patient’s state of health, to facilitate the identification of therapies increasingly personalized and potentially more effective. The project, created by the Almaviva Group (through the subsidiaries Almaviva Digitaltec and Almawave) is being tested at the Irccs of Bari “Giovanni Paolo II”, with funding from the Puglia Region.
by Sandro Iannaccone
Three thousand patients under examination
The project, which also involves the Polytechnic of Bari and the University of Salento, aims to create an advanced and digital model of the real patient, offering healthcare personnel a complete picture of the parameters that characterize the patients. For this trial, the Bari Cancer Institute plans to enroll around 3 thousand patients: one thousand are affected by myeloma, a blood cancer, and around 2 thousand are patients with breast cancer. “The clinical data of these patients – he explains Alessandro Delle Donnegeneral director of the Irccs of Bari – are already taken care of by the molecular diagnostics and pharmacogenetic operational unit of our Institute, which deals, among other things, with the analysis of genetic markers of susceptibility to some hereditary neoplasms and with useful biomarkers for prognosis, prediction of therapeutic response and drug toxicity”.
by Sara Carmignani
Digital twins created with Artificial Intelligence
Case studies used to train AI algorithms for these pathologies have currently been identified. The approach allows future extension to other oncological pathologies and non-oncological areas. But how does experimentation actually work? To understand this, let’s take the example of a patient suffering from myeloma who is taken care of by the healthcare facility for his treatment process. “The multidisciplinary medical team, through consultation of the patient data acquired by the platform, analyzes and identifies the optimal treatment path, thanks to the creation of the patient’s digital twin and the support of technological tools based on artificial intelligence”, explains Delle Donne .
by Elisa Manacorda
A digital healthcare ecosystem
The OncologIA project allows you to personalize the diagnosis and treatment path like never before. All this is made possible through a solution that allows you to manage and analyze large quantities of health data coming from heterogeneous sources and in different formats. The platform, based on emerging and advanced technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Blockchain, with the ability to manage medical and clinical data in a totally anonymized and secure way, supports medical staff and researchers in the path of diagnosis, assistance and care of the cancer patient.
“The OncologIA project – adds the expert – effectively creates a digital healthcare ecosystem, managed in the cloud, within which different levels of information and data are hosted from electronic medical records, from the Electronic Health Record, from the CUP, from DRG and SDO, from laboratories, from radiology, thanks to which a digital twin of the patient is created, in order to offer medical staff a support tool in choosing the diagnosis, assistance and treatment path”.
The impact on hospital management
Through the digital twin, doctors can consult a detailed and updated view of the patient’s condition, but also identify and simulate the application of highly personalized and potentially more effective therapies. Oncology processes not only data relating to the patient but also to healthcare facilities, supporting hospital management and logistics, with benefits on the efficiency of the facility, patient well-being and environmental impacts.
by Deborah Ameri
For example, when booking a visit or treatment, the patient is automatically directed to the most suitable and closest facility. The project aims to monitor the progress of prescribed therapies and the state of well-being of the person being treated, also through the use of sensors and wearable devices for monitoring the patient’s parameters. Further ongoing experimentation is that of the possible correlation of the patient’s state of health in relation to environmental data.
by Donatella Zorzetto
The advantages for the patient
The creation of a digital twin of the patient leads to an improvement in clinical management but also has an impact on their quality of life.
“The use of Artificial Intelligence – adds the general director of the Irccs of Bari – allows us to improve the management of the patient’s treatment path, because it offers doctors and clinicians important information on the diagnosis, prognosis of the disease and the possible response of the patient to the proposed therapy or to the toxicity of the recommended drugs. By increasing the speed with which clinical responses can be obtained, the medical oncologist will first know what type of tumor it is, how the disease will evolve, how the patient will be able to react to the therapies proposals and, on the basis of this information, will be able to decide the most suitable solution for each individual patient. All of this, it is clear, improves not only the patient’s care but also and above all his quality of life”.
More efficiency and savings for the healthcare facility
The increase in efficiency and effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment consequently also leads to significant economic savings. But not only. The savings are also in terms of optimization which transforms into improvement of the services offered by local healthcare facilities, with less impact on the patient’s health and on the environment.
“The therapeutic decision support systems that we develop with our algorithms – continues Delle Donne – can be used at zero cost for patients and in many cases allow us to avoid further more expensive and often invasive tests. This is why Intelligence Artificial can represent an innovative tool that reduces healthcare spending without compromising the patient’s treatment process.”
The evolution of the project
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence it will be possible to simplify the lives of doctors and patients. In particular, optimizing the treatment path will be able to lighten the patient’s entire therapeutic process, directing them to the hospitals and facilities that are closest to their home and which provide the right services necessary to complete the treatment path.
A project that would be nice to experiment with in other centers as well: “To date, the testing body of the OncologIA project is the Irccs Giovanni Paolo II of Bari. The structure is part of the AMORe foundation – Alleanza Mediterranea Oncologia in Rete, which brings together the oncology Irccs of the South – Crob for Basilicata and the National Cancer Institute ‘Pascalè Foundation of Naples for Campania’, explains further Aniello Ciervo, technical director of Almaviva Digitaltec and responsible for the OncologIA research project. “The intention is to extend and promote the experimentation and innovation initiative to the other subjects of the AMOre foundation. up to the sharing of diagnostic-therapeutic paths and the care of all cancer patients”.