Can 3D technology revolutionise heart surgery?
NHS England is rolling out new "revolutionary" 3D technology to diagnose and treat patients with suspected heart disease.
Called HeartFlow, the device turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image. This will allow doctors to diagnose serious coronary heart disease in just twenty minutes - five times faster than usual. Typically patients need to go to hospital for an angiogram, a procedure that is invasive and time-consuming.
Once patients are diagnosed using the 3D image, they can be treated with surgery, medication or by having a stent fitted. For less serious cases they will be given tips on healthy lifestyle changes or cholesterol-lowering medication – meaning the risk is quickly resolved before it becomes life-threatening.
Faster, better diagnosis
Richard Coxon, Director of Life Sciences at Dassault Systèmes, a French software company specialising in 3D product design and simulation, believes this new announcement is of huge importance. “Heart disease remains the first cause of death around the world, so advances in 3D technology to help patients receive a faster diagnosis are significant."
HeartFlow's release comes at a time when NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to tackle the backlog after treating around 400,000 patients who were seriously ill with COVID-19 - hospitals admitted more than 100,000 COVID patients in January 2021 alone.
Advanced technology like 3D scanning will be essential to help staff restore services after the pandemic. Another emerging field is digital twin technology. "Recent research from Dassault Systemes found that in light of the pandemic, a majority of the industry has quickly adopted solutions to improve digital collaboration, such as virtual twins" Coxon says.
"Digital twin technology is also making waves in improving the diagnosis and treatment of patients, streamlining preventative care and facilitating new approaches for hospital planning."
An example of this is The Living Heart Project, launched in 2014 by Dassault Systèmes to help physicians and surgeons virtually analyse their patients’ health and plan therapies and surgeries using advanced simulation technology.
"The Living Heart Project was launched to develop the world’s first realistically functioning computer model of the complete human heart" Coxon explains. "Through this initiative, a fully functioning Living Heart has been developed and is now available to anyone worldwide. It is also being used for designing new medical devices, analysing drug safety, designing personalised surgical treatments and in biomedical education."
New tools like HeartFlow and the Living Heart Project will ultimately enable clinicians to treat patients with far more precision. "We need better utilisation of existing technology to bring about a renaissance in clinical care" Coxon adds. "To do this, medical practitioners need to utilise digital healthcare, with virtual twin technology serving not only as a medical record, but as a guide for more precise treatments.”
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.