Imagine a world where a digital watch on your wrist not only tracks your steps, but also your blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. The watch then automatically sends a personalized health snapshot to your doctor, alerting them to early signs of illness.
That scenario could become a reality in the near future, according to Joseph Schwab, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Center for Surgical Innovation and Engineering, who is leading innovative research into wearable healthcare technology.
Schwab, who is also director of orthopedic spine oncology at Cedars-Sinais, will present the latest developments in research on wearable medical technology at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, February 12-16. We will announce. During the conference, Schwab will also participate in the President's Symposium, where he will share insights on generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT. He also discusses medical privacy issues that can arise with these technologies.
Cedars-Sinai Newsroom spoke with Schwab to discuss the scope of his research and how he sees AI impacting the future of healthcare.
What makes your laboratory different from other research facilities?
My co-director, Dr. Hamid Gaedonia, is a mechanical engineer, and our lab is unique in the sense that it is heavily engineering-based. Much of what we do every day is building things. So instead of test tubes and microscopes, we have lathes and band saws. We have multiple 3D printers and a whole room dedicated to electronics, where we solder our devices. The engineering expertise of our research teams is a key differentiator, and our clinical and engineering partnerships are a hallmark of our business. We not only have the equipment, but also the know-how to handle it.
We are one of the few research centers in the country where we can identify a clinical need, discuss it, come up with a potential solution, build that solution, and begin testing, all within one center. This is one of the facilities.
What are some of the innovations you are working on?
Our area of focus is wearable devices. Consumer wearables on the market are essentially motion trackers. It may have an accelerometer or gyroscope that can be used to easily measure your position and movement and track your steps and other data. Our device delivers energy in the form of light, electrical energy, and sound into tissue, we can measure that energy as it leaves the tissue, and we can make inferences based on how that energy is affected by the tissue. In that sense, what we are doing is different. organization.
For example, if you go to the doctor and use a reflex hammer on your knee to test your reflexes, the doctor can only determine the presence or absence of reflexes. Instead, the wearable device we are developing can quantify reflex responses, such as the time taken to react and the robustness of the response. We can give these data points a very specific numerical meaning, which we hope will lead to better diagnosis. .
How is AI used in your work?
Sensors in wearable devices receive an incredible amount of data from the energy after it passes through tissue. Interpreting this requires advanced computing power. At the heart of AI is very advanced mathematics and computer programming. Leverage AI to interpret the data you collect and relate it to clinical problems.
Apart from wearable technology, AI can also be used to make small-scale predictions for use in clinical settings, such as interpreting electronic health data. For example, a patient is considering a surgery that has a 5% risk of complications relative to the total population. However, using AI to interpret personal health information may reveal that an individual's risk of complications is closer to 25%. This can have a huge impact on their decision making. Making more accurate predictions in this way is a form of personalized medicine.
Who will benefit from these new technologies?
These technologies can bring real benefits to everyone across the medical field. Patients whose health data is analyzed can receive more personalized care. For example, you may be able to undergo more accurate tests to get an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment, which may ultimately lead to better results.
It can even positively impact healthcare payers and insurance companies by determining appropriate treatments and reducing healthcare spending. There are so many opportunities and benefits.
Where do you see this field going in the next 5-10 years?
In my opinion, it won't be long until we completely stop using the terms artificial intelligence and machine learning. Because artificial intelligence and machine learning will become integrated into everything we do and run in the background as a common practice. It will no longer be a mystery.
As it relates to wearable technology, I see these becoming part of the anticipated medical evaluation process. Through these devices, we have the opportunity to learn much more than we would glean from a basic medical exam, and we can capture data before patients even see their healthcare providers. Medical appointments become more accurate and efficient when healthcare providers can already see and interpret the data collected.
Wearable technology and the integration of AI into healthcare consumption and delivery will continue to grow over time. And I think people will become very comfortable and start relying on these devices in a good way.
Read more in Cedars-Sinai Discoveries Magazine: Advances in Artificial Intelligence
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