The University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre has been awarded $1M as part of Australia’s inaugural Google.org AI Impact Challenge prize to develop a customized digital health solution powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the risk of heart attacks. The prize was presented to Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) led by Professor Clara Chow, a cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney’s Westmead Clinical School as well as academic director of the WARC.
AI-Driven Solution to Reduce Heart Attacks
According to Professor Chow, a focus on a scalable prevention program should make a difference to individuals’ lives and help address issues of increasing preventable chronic illness suffered by an aging population.
“Modifiable risk factors account for over 90 percent of the risk of heart attack worldwide,” Professor Chow said. “Chest pain is the second most common reason people present to emergency department in Australia and may be an early warning sign – early identification and monitoring could prevent patients returning to hospital suffering a heart attack but currently this is poorly done.
“AI-driven digital health interventions have the potential to be the game changer – as the technology would enable patients to be monitored while they go about their daily lives,” added Professor Chow.
The digital health program, initially centered around Western Sydney health services, will deliver tailored advice and nudges using machine learning to participants who have presented at hospital with chest pain, harnessing their digital footprint to reduce the risk of a heart attack. By combining AI-driven clinical and consumer-derived data from apps and wearables devices, it is believed the accuracy of heart risk assessment will be improved.
Impact of Award
University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence stated the award would add to the body of work over the longer term for the Westmead Precinct in becoming a global center of excellence (COE) in innovation, healthcare, wellbeing and education, including the University’s second major campus comprising some 25,000 students by 2050.
“This support from Google recognises our pioneering work in this space. AI has the potential to transform health care globally – from crisis management to prevention – and we are delighted to be working with industry and with government to look at new ways of tackling society’s growing health burden,” Dr Spence said.
This new customized digital health solution will be delivered as part of the Living Lab strategy at Westmead. Participation is voluntary and will be offered as an option for patients who could benefit; personal information and health data protection are covered by Commonwealth and State legislation.