"It's like autonomous vehicles - everyone is interested in them, we partly trust them, in part not, and we are figuring out how they can be used," says Professor Jan Žaloudík, Director of the Masaryk Oncological Institute in Brno, where the staff has been preparing for the implementation of a system that should help doctors with complex decision-making. They have been visiting top institutions abroad to learn more. "It will be a hot topic in the coming five to ten years," says Žaloudík. The use of artificial intelligence and big data in health care was debated at the HN (Hospodarske noviny daily) Roundtable held in mid-September 2018.
The participants agreed that the Czech Republic stands at the beginning, and it is time to prepare for the future. The volume of data produced by health care systems around the world has been doubling every three years. But health care systems are struggling with the fact that they are incapable of collecting, sorting, using and analyzing the data. The data can be obtained from everywhere - from patients, from research and clinical studies to, for example, applications for mobile monitoring of human body activity.
"The data and their use offers answers to many questions, among them how to manage healthcare, or how to compare impacts of similar treatment on various patients," explains Matej Adam, IBM's Watson Health Manager for Europe. IBM's Watson Health system can work with artificial intelligence data from hospitals. In the Czech Republic, it is not used yet, but in neighboring Slovakia it has already been tested in the field of oncology. "The use of big data and artificial intelligence is a hot topic for many reasons, one of which is the sustainability of system funding," Adam noted.
Artificial Intelligence, for example, can help sort a large amount of data stored by hospitals, and determine which are important for archiving and which, on the contrary, the hospital can discard, says Žaloudík.
Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula, however, notes that the Czech Republic has been lagging behind in the area of big data and artificial intelligence - many hospitals are still struggling with the issue of actual data storage. Many hospitals store the data in paper form, so they have to rent storage rooms. "This is a chapter we are trying to close. Electronisation of healthcare is the way to say goodbye to large warehouses. We are now drafting a new ehealth law," Prymula reminded.
"We want to create an integrated data interface to have a platform that will communicate with a typical electronic system. There are healthcare facilities that are more prepared than others, in some cases they are even looking around to work in a big data system and be able to analyze data," says Prymula.
But it is not possible to take "some" data from hospitals and create advanced analyzes, Adam points out. "The quality of the data is important - the structure - and then it is possible to get something out of it. It is necessary to have an idea at the beginning," Adam points out, adding that it should not be engineers determining the progress, but the doctors and hospital managers.
Image credit: HN-Jan Rasch