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Advances in medical imaging, wearable tech spur personalized care

Medical imaging systems using analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence can help doctors practice personalized healthcare, according to a Philips Healthcare expert.

 Jeroen Tas is CEO of Connected Care and Health Informatics at Philips Healthcare. At the RSNA 2016 medical imaging conference in Chicago in November, he talked with SearchHealthIT about advances in medical imaging and the personalization of healthcare. This is part one of a two-part Q&A. In part two, Tas talked about his own family's experience with healthcare and how radiology is going beyond medical imaging toward data science.

You've talked a lot at RSNA about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software to assist radiologists and neurologists. In the past, you've also been interested in the consumerization of health and wearable technology. How do you see the personal side of healthcare and mobile technology intersecting with advances in medical imaging?

Jeroen Tas: We see them coming together because ultimately, we believe that the more you know about the patient, the better you understand that patient, the better the diagnosis for that patient, and more importantly, the better the treatment. Because ultimately, treatment should be very personal.

When it comes to wearables and what we call the internet of medical things, it's really about helping you in your day-to-day life. And … we know that 86% of the healthcare spend[ing] is going to the worst chronic diseases, including acute events associated with chronic disease.

When it comes to wearables and what we call the internet of medical things, it's really about helping you in your day-to-day life.
Jeroen TasPhilips Healthcare

If we can give you the tools in your everyday life to better control your chronic disease, and a lot of the information you'll require will be [fed] to you through these medical devices, which can be a health watch that not only captures your steps and activity but also looks at your heart, for example. We're specifically interested in your heart rhythm because that's an indicator of something going wrong. But we're also interested in your weight and your blood pressure. But we're specifically interested in what it means to you.

Now, getting to advances in medical imaging, let's say you have an issue with your heart, you have chest pain and you're breathing irregularly. How interesting would it be if you can just go to your general practitioner and use our mobile Lumify ultrasound and actually do an ultrasound of the heart, and there and then, do the diagnosis on your heart? That may lead to personalized treatment, such as maybe changing your medication. Or we could more invasively, say: 'Hey, you probably now need to go to the hospital because we see a weakness in one of your valves and we may want take this one step further.'

Jeroen Tas, CEO, Connected Care and Health Informatics, Philips Healthcare
Jeroen Tas

How can medical imaging technology help with early detection of disease?

Tas: If we talk about neurological disorders, what we're seeing with advances in medical imaging, you can actually start now seeing early onset of Alzheimer's. These are very, very subtle changes in the brain. All of us, as we get older we get atrophy, which basically means the brain starts shrinking. That's not a problem in itself because it happens to all of us. What is a problem is if it deviates from what should be normal in terms of, you know, a shrinking brain.

If we start seeing little signs that maybe we cannot see with the human eye, but the software can pick it up, that will then allow a neuroradiologist to start seeing deterioration early on.

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