Hamilton Health Sciences launches advanced IT group
February 27, 2020
HAMILTON, ONT. – Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has launched a team called “CREATE” that’s staffed with experts in artificial intelligence, data sciences and software engineering. The group will help clinicians in the multi-site hospital and in the surrounding area produce information technology solutions that can raise the quality of patient care and improve medical outcomes.
CREATE is an acronym for CentRE for dAta science and digiTal hEalth, and it currently has seven employees. They’re led by Dr. Jeremy Petch, who recently joined HHS from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where he was involved in cutting-edge AI, big data and analytics projects.
While CREATE members are lending their skills to clinicians, it’s the physicians and others who are driving the agenda when it comes to actual work being done. “Clinicians are best positioned to determine what needs to happen,” said Dr. Petch.
He explained that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals often envisage superb solutions for patient care or workflow, but they don’t always have the expertise in software engineering, data science, AI and interoperability needed to turn good concepts into real-world solutions.
That’s where the team at CREATE steps in, as its members do possess these skills. “We can bring their ideas to life,” said Dr. Petch.
The data scientists at CREATE have expertise in AI and machine learning, as well as in managing high-volume data. They know how to apply it to challenging data problems like risk prediction, image recognition and natural language processing.
At the same time, CREATE employs digital experts with enterprise skills in solutions architecture, interoperability and deploying large-scale systems.
Already, the CREATE team is working on several projects. In one, they’re helping a local physiatrist design a software platform for managing patients who have suffered concussions, and where the patients need ongoing care.
The system will enable patients to better manage their care and report on their symptoms, progress or problems. It will also help patients with their therapies. “We want to make sure they’re doing enough to get better, but not too much – because that can also hinder them,” said Dr. Ted Scott, vice president of research at HHS.
Dr. Scott noted the system will also tie patients to clinicians more closely than before, so that they’re better supervised.
“There are many systems available or under development for assessing concussions, but few that help with the ongoing management of patients who have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment. It’s on this score that the CREATE system is unique,” said Dr. Scott. “Not a lot of people are paying attention to recovery.”
One of the project’s many innovations includes the use of wearables to help with the monitoring of concussion patients, to help track their treatment and automatically alert clinicians when their attention is needed.
Another project CREATE is supporting is SMArTVIEW, led by Drs. Michael McGillion, assistant dean, research, School of Nursing, McMaster University and PJ Devereaux, HHS cardiologist, professor of medicine at McMaster University and scientific lead of Population Health Research Institute’s perioperative and surgery program.
HHS developed this initiative with industry and government partners to monitor post-op cardiac surgery patients once they’ve been moved from the OR to step-down units, and even after they’ve left hospital and have returned home.
It’s at this point, after leaving the highly supervised OR, that they’re most vulnerable and may require attention.
SMArTVIEW can remotely monitor patients using a variety of devices, including weight scales, blood oxygen saturation and video. The data can be tracked and analyzed to determine if a patient is deteriorating and needs attention.
“We’re examining the streaming data and planning to run it through new machine learning algorithms,” said Dr. Petch. “We’re working to build capacity for prediction of adverse health events.”
Dr. Scott noted that Hamilton Health Sciences has a large trial of the SMArTVIEW technology under way in Hamilton and in Liverpool, UK. It currently involves 500 patients, but that will soon increase to 800.
Not only are clinicians notified when patients are running into trouble, but the machine learning will be taught to predict when patients are going to deteriorate, so that early actions can be taken. “We’re partnering with CREATE to use the intelligence of machine learning to become more proactive in patient-care,” said Dr. McGillion.
The goal with the systems under development is to improve the care of patients not only in the Hamilton area, but across Canada, in the United States and around the world.
Dr. Scott said a substantial investment has been made in CREATE, and the group will expand its numbers in the near future.
CREATE is also exploring alliances with public and private-sector partners.
However, the intent is not to commercialize its own inventions, but to work in partnership with others, and to allow them to bring the innovations to market.
By partnering with other organizations, HHS will be able to bring in the revenue stream needed to grow CREATE and sustain itself over the long term, Dr. Scott said.
Along with clinicians, CREATE will also support the research community at Hamilton Health Sciences, helping it to incorporate AI, machine learning and other advanced technologies into its work.