By Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group
The major crisis faced by healthcare today is the rising tide of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, cancer, and stroke. NCDs are a threat and responsible for 63 percent of all deaths globally, rising to 70-80 percent in the developing world. While around half of those who die because of NCDs are in their productive years, the patients are getting younger with time. Cardiovascular diseases form a majority of the NCDs with changes in lifestyle, diet, and stress contributing to the increasing number of heart diseases and heart attack deaths among Indians.
On the positive side, most of the NCDs are preventable and especially in the case of cardiovascular diseases, early detection along with preventive measures and management including lifestyle and diet modification and treatment can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality completely. However, despite the enormous number of cases, doctors in India are unable to identify the probability of cardiovascular disease. Assistance in this challenge can be found in the use of AI. Overcoming the limitation of the traditional health check, one of the means that is allowing deep insights into the prevention of cardiovascular diseases is Artificial Intelligence. This approach will help democratize healthcare, take health knowledge to the cloud and health to the community.
Artificial intelligence (AI) affects every aspect of our lives today whether we are aware of it or not! AI algorithms have developed and made remarkable progress, promising a paradigm shift to the practice of medicine. AI-enabled tools can equip doctors in the fight against the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, and are today already in use in neurology and oncology in addition to cardiology. Combining Applied AI and clinical expertise, many platforms are in the process of development including Adult diabetes care pathway, Hypertension treatment and control pathway, cholesterol management in cardiovascular risk pathway, and prevention of stroke and CVA. AI can play a major part in the prediction and monitoring of disease while empowering physicians with the power of data to make superior clinical decisions.
AI can play a major part in the prediction and monitoring of disease while empowering physicians with the power of data to make superior clinical decisions.
One of the first steps in this direction was Apollo Hospitals Group’s collaboration with Microsoft for an Intelligent Platform designed to predict cardiovascular disease risk score for the Indian population. While there are global CVD risk models available, these are not based on Indian statistics and do not cater to the Indian population. Responding to this need and developed as part of Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare initiative, the first-ever AI-powered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score API (application program interface), designed specifically to predict the risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in the Indian population was launched in August 2018.
Built on Microsoft Azure, the Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score helps to determine a more accurate CVD risk score for the Indian population. Combining applied AI and clinical expertise on a large sample of retrospective data on health checks and coronary events, the scoring factors in risk contributors including lifestyle attributes such as diet, tobacco and smoking preferences and physical activity as well as psychological stress and anxiety. These are based on clinical measurements such as Rate of Respiration, Hypertension, and systolic and diastolic Blood Pressure. The risk is categorized into high, moderate and minimal with insights on the top modifiable risk contributors. The score empowers physicians with the information required to manage patients’ treatment more holistically with advice for lifestyle modification and timely interventions.
Over the last one year, doctors across the Apollo Group of hospitals have been leveraging this AI-powered API to predict the risk of CVD and drive preventive cardiac care across the country. To date, over 200,000 people have already been screened using the AI-powered API across Apollo Hospitals and in many cases, physicians have been able to predict the risk score of patients 5 to 7 years in advance.
To date, over 200,000 people have already been screened using the AI-powered API across Apollo Hospitals and in many cases, physicians have been able to predict the risk score of patients 5 to 7 years in advance.
To take this to the next level and target the huge Indian population, it is necessary to democratize data and work relentlessly to fuel such innovation to deal with the vast scale of individuals across the country. It is with this in mind that Apollo and Microsoft set up a National Clinical Coordination Committee (NCCC) for the AI-powered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score API. The committee consists of leading doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; King George’s Medical University, Lucknow; and Apollo Hospitals Group.
The NCCC will assist the core team at Apollo Hospitals and Microsoft by guiding on all cardiology and cardiovascular-related AI projects; clinical insights on developing clinical algorithms and treatment guidelines based on the inferences of national, multicenter prospective study. With some of the best cardiologists from renowned hospitals in the country, the NCCC will play a major role in the fight against the rising tsunami of NCDs and contribute towards saving precious lives.
What does the future hold? Renowned health systems from around the world will come in as global consortium partners to scale the AI-powered API and contribute towards the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing the risk of premature mortality (30 to 69 years of age) from NCDs, including CVDs, by 25 percent by 2025! AI may be the silver bullet that lets us win the fight against not just cardiovascular diseases, but all NCDs!