Sian Claire Owen, medical journalist for Cardio Debate, UK

Artificial intelligence and mobile technologies in healthcare have been in the headlines recently. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has talked about how the ‘AI Revolution’ will help ‘prevent thousands of cancer-related deaths by 2033’, [1] and a recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) talks about introducing robots into hospitals to carry out a wide range of tasks from feeding patients to diagnosing illnesses. [2]

Away from the headlines the ‘AI revolution’ has been quietly gathering pace for many years, and this growing trend is set to become mainstream very soon. An article in Diagnosis and Interventional Cardiology [3] gives a comprehensive overview of a series of papers recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that cover the impact of AI and mobile health (or ‘mHealth’) in the field of cardiovascular medicine.

In the first paper ‘Artificial Intelligence in Cardiology’, authors describe how AI goes hand-in-hand with the emergence of personalised medicine. New technologies such as whole genome sequencing and streaming mobile device biometrics means that physicians will be expected to process and utilise vast amounts of data. [4]

As the authors say: “Physicians are being inundated with data requiring more sophisticated interpretation while being expected to perform more efficiently.” [4] AI offers an obvious solution to this, although the operators will require specialist training.

Another aspect covered in JACC is the role of mobile health, or ‘mHealth’. The paper ‘Health Advances in Physical Activity, Fitness, and Atrial Fibrillation’ describes how mHealth in cardiology focuses largely on preventing CVD outside of clinical settings and includes wearable devices that monitor heart rate and rhythm, and physical activity. [5] This especially includes devices that monitor heart rate and rhythm for the diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation, which is a growing market in the US and Europe. [6]

The final paper ‘Using Digital Health Technology to Better Generate Evidence and Deliver Evidence-Based Care’ [7] looks at how the healthcare community can best embrace these new information technologies, in terms of data quality, regulations and privacy concerns. In 2016 a think tank meeting was held including representatives from academia, industry and regulatory organisations to discuss these challenges and suggest possible solutions. These include establishing a framework for ‘the appropriate use of digital technologies in healthcare delivery and research’. [7]

As AI and digital technologies become more ubiquitous it is imperative that the healthcare community keeps up to date with the developments, so we can adapt accordingly to benefit fully from these new tools.