The Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) has won Australia’s first Google AI Impact Challenge prize in digital health in a bid to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
The grant means Google’s AI expertise and $1 million in cash will be available to support WARC’s research into combining “digital footprints” of data gathered from smartphones and wearable devices with clinical outcomes for people presenting to hospitals with chest pain.
The program will initially be centred around the Western Sydney Local Health District (which runs WARC with the University of Sydney) to deliver tailored advice and ‘nudges’ to participants, the university said.
Professor Clara Chow, a cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and WARC academic director, was presented the prize on Wednesday by Google Australia managing Director Melanie Silva and federal minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.
Chow said a scalable, prevention-oriented program should make a difference to individuals’ lives and help address issues of increasing preventable chronic illness suffered by an aging population.
“Chest pain is the second most common reason people present to emergency department in Australia and may be an early warning sign – early identification and monitoring could prevent patients returning to hospital suffering a heart attack but currently this is poorly done,” she said.
“AI-driven digital health interventions have the potential to be the game changer – as the technology would enable patients to be monitored while they go about their daily lives.”
Participation in the program will be on a voluntary basis, with any personal and health data obtained from patients’ devices being protected in accordance with state and federal legislation.
University of Sydney vice-chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, added the grant is valued recognition for the recently-established WARC and broader Westmead Precinct, which aim to contribute to global healthcare and innovation efforts.
“AI has the potential to transform healthcare globally – from crisis management to prevention – and we are delighted to be working with industry and with government to look at new ways of tackling society’s growing health burden,” Spence said.