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Page updated 6.5.2019

International health care AI experts are gathering in Turku

Artificial intelligence will change the health care practices considerably over the next two decades. Experts are saying that investments should be directed at basic health care in particular. The international Life Science Live event is gathering leading life science experts to Turku in May.

The international Life Science Live event will be arranged from 15–16 May 2019 in the Turku Fair Center. The main theme of the event is artificial intelligence and its applications in health care, drug development and biotechnology. The event will bring together medical and health care research communities and the business world. There will also be international investors present.

“All keynote speakers of Life Science Live are highly regarded experts in the industry. In addition to Karen Madden from Perkin Elmer, speakers include e.g. Andrew Fried from IBM and Dipak Kalra from the European Institute for Innovation through Health Data organisation”, says Project Director Krista Ahonen from the Turku Fair Center.

The participants from Turku University of Applied Sciences are the research group in Health Technology and the laboratory for sports and functional ability.

Artificial intelligence will change health care radically

”Artificial intelligence will radically change the health care practices over the next 20 years. The utilisation of AI should be started in basic health care for it to benefit as many patients as possible”, says Arho Virkki, Director of Auria Clinical Informatics.

Auria organises, harmonises and maintains the clinical patient data in the patient register of the Hospital District of Southwest Finland for the use of researchers and other experts.

As an example, Mr Virkki mentions diabetes which around half a million Finns have, as estimated by the Finnish Diabetes Association. Around 15 per cent of the total costs of basic health care are spent on the treatment of diabetes.

”At present, the treatment practices of diabetes patients vary from province to province and also between units. If different treatment methods and paths can be compiled together, AI is able to analyse and screen the seemingly most efficient practices to be evaluated by experts. Smooth treatment paths will improve the quality of treatment of diabetes patients and lower the costs arising from the disease.”

Personalised treatment for prostate cancer

Artificial intelligence also enables more personalised treatment for cancer patients. A study was carried out in the University of Turku which used AI to find a model for forecasting the progress and effective treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer. The study used for the first time in the world actual clinical data for anticipating the progress of a disease. The research method can be applied in forecasting the progress and treatment effectiveness of other diseases, too. The study was published in the highly acclaimed Bioinformatics journal last year.

”Cancer is not one disease, but has as many as hundreds of subtypes which require different treatment. An accurate diagnosis in as early phase as possible is extremely important for choosing the right treatment. The prognosis for castration-resistant prostate cancer is poor, and there is a great need for new forms of treatment”, says Arho Virkki who participated in the study.

Focus from routines to treatment

The automation of health care practices by means of AI will release care personnel from routine tasks to actual treatment and care of patients in the future.

”The current robots and intelligent tools are useful especially in such routine tasks in which encountering people is not essential. Those include, for example, logistics duties, such as transport of food and pharmaceuticals. As the importance of encounters increases, the role of technology will also change – with the development of AI, advanced technology may become a partner, as is happening in service robotics”, says Special Advisor Janne Lahtiranta from Turku Science Park Ltd which is one of the organisers of the Life Science Live event.

AI will also help to identify the customer groups in need of specific services earlier than at present. In a trial implemented by the City of Espoo and Tieto Corporation, by processing large data volumes the researchers were able to develop a model that can forecast who will be a customer of child welfare services five years from now. That way help can be offered at an early stage before the problems become serious.

Precision and speed in imaging

In medical imaging research, AI will open up completely new opportunities within the next few years. Imaging is an important element in the diagnostics and treatment of many diseases, and AI will help to get more accurate results and faster than before. That would be particularly useful in situations that call for quick decisions, such as emergency services. In the future, AI will also be used in the evaluation of drug response and planning of medical test settings.

“One of the areas where AI has already shown great promise and early adoption is image analysis. We are very encouraged by the results we are getting – improving data analysis from days and hours to minutes and also enabling completely new applications”, says Karen Madden, Vice President of Perkin Elmer. She is one of the keynote speakers of the Life Science Live event and will talk about the innovations of personalised medicine from drug discovery through diagnosis.

“One of the most significant challenges is access to high quality and curated data sets, which are, in a sense, the ‘gasoline’ required to power and train AI algorithms for different applications. In the case of patient data, one needs to be very careful about privacy and consent issues”, Karen Madden continues.