– The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for development of an algorithm to automate the process of detecting hospital infection outbreaks.
The SBIR grant was awarded by NIH’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases to Boston-based Day Zero Diagnostics to develop the ksim algorithm to fight hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
HAIs affect 4 percent to 5 percent of hospitalized patients in the United States and result in 99,000 patient deaths annually.
Factors that increase the risk of HAIs include catheters, surgery, injections, unsanitary healthcare environments, communicable diseases passed between patients and healthcare workers, and overuse or misuse of antibiotics.
To combat HAIs, the ksim algorithm processes whole genome sequencing data without the need for manual analysis steps or a computational biologist to conduct traditional sequence analysis.
Using the grant money, Day Zero Diagnostics will develop and validate ksim using machine learning, data from published hospital outbreaks, a large dataset from a hospital, and data from the company’s epiXact, a whole genome sequencing and analysis service.
With ksim and epiXact, hospital infection control teams will be armed with results in less than 24 hours, a timeframe that can have a significant impact on the intervention decisions a hospital might employ to improve patient safety, according to Day Zero Diagnostics.
“Our goal is to leverage ksim’s precision, speed, and computational efficiency to enhance and expand our recently launched epiXactSMservice for investigating suspected HAI outbreaks,” said Jong Lee, CEO and co-founder of Day Zero Diagnostics.
“Additionally, ksim will enable transformational strategies for outbreak detection and intervention that are not currently possible because it allows the automated processing of large datasets in real-time,” Lee added.
AI Is Part of Broader Digital Healthcare Revolution
The use of AI is part of a broader digital revolution taking place in healthcare.
“Digital technology presents an array of benefits with the potential to transform healthcare in a positive way,” observed Terrence Toland, an associate with A. T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council (GBPC).
“Advanced analytics and AI can push new boundaries in personalized medicine and diagnostics by enabling the analysis of large datasets to extract patient-specific information, while the proliferation of wearables and other Internet of Things devices allow doctors and patients alike to monitor health and fitness in real time,” he told HITInfrastructure.com.
In addition to preventing hospital infections, AI is being used by drug companies to model chemical structures and develop new drugs, and physicians are using AI and machine learning to diagnose and treat patients.
“Digital connections also offer remote connectivity for telemedicine, creating opportunities for doctors to provide remote treatment, regardless of where their patient is located. And virtual and augmented reality headsets allow surgeons to practice complicated procedures before attempting them, reducing operating times and complications,” Toland observed.
Transformational Impact of Technologies Predicted for Healthcare
Two-thirds of healthcare executives who responded to a recent survey by Accenture predicted that the combination of distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and quantum computing (DARQ) will have a “transformational” impact on their organization over the next three years.
“DARQ technologies are poised to become the foundation for next-generation products and services. Healthcare leaders in the DARQ-driven future will be prepared to combine and exploit those competencies as the technologies reach enterprise-level maturity,” the report observed.
Most healthcare execs surveyed said they are experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies.
“All four DARQ technologies are, or will be, powerful on their own. But as they advance, they will push each other forward further. Already, early pairings reveal game-changing combinatorial effects for healthcare,” the report related.
Around 87 percent of respondents believe that digital demographics give their organization a new way to identify market opportunities. A similar percentage said that digital demographics are a more powerful way to understand their customers compared to traditional demographics.
“Healthcare has an ongoing data stream from medical records, technology devices, claims, past preferences for services, biology and more. This data is the cornerstone of delivering personalized healthcare on a person’s own terms,” the report noted.
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