Using AI in Preventive Medicine

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a very hot topic in healthcare, and it has become a buzz word in both medical and popular media. For some, the idea of an artificial intelligence may bring to mind science fiction scenarios of robots controlling humans. However, AI is a tool that can make it easier for physicians to detect and diagnose disease, and does not involve a secret robot brain to accomplish this.

AI machine learning powers data analysis in preventive medicine

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on developing algorithms and statistical models that enable computers to learn from and make predictions or decisions based on data without being explicitly programmed to perform specific tasks. It can make predictions based on a larger number of data points than is possible through human cognition. As AI datasets get larger with more inputs, machine learning algorithms become better able to provide fast, accurate analysis better than humans.

Dr. Helen Messier, Chief Medical and Science Officer at Fountain Life, believes that AI is a critical part of practicing medicine: “AI helps us take a deeper view of what’s going on, we can see it with more clarity. We don’t use AI exclusively to make decisions, obviously, we have a physician that helps interpret that. It’s a tool that we use, that doesn’t take the place of the physician. It’s a very critical component” in providing advanced medical care.

Using AI for brain scans at Fountain Life

Fountain Life’s brain MRI diagnostic employs machine learning techniques. Utilizing images already taken of your brain, this assessment provides you with information on the key indicators of overall brain health. It also uses a machine learning algorithm to connect brain structure with the genes that affect your brain health. This process helps to get a more well-rounded picture of how genetics impacts your brain’s symptomatology.

Dr. Helen Messier: “We can now quantify all of the different volumes in your brain in the different regions of your brain. We can get an assessment of their size”, which can reveal the presence of dementia, tumors, infections or blood clots. MRIs can detect brain anomalies before any symptoms occur, which could mean treating a condition in its early stages when interventions are more likely to be successful.

Fountain Life uses AI-assisted CCTA to predict heart disease

If you are at risk of a future heart attack, Fountain Life’s AI-guided approach to Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) provides heart imaging, along with an AI overlay that analyzes your heart in comparison to hundreds of thousands of data points that improve the accuracy of the results.

According to Dr. Messier “We use an AI overlay that helps us characterize any plaque that you might have in your coronary blood vessels, the blood vessels that feed oxygen and the blood supply to your heart. We can see if you have hard plaque that’s calcified. We can [also] see if you have soft plaque.”

By accurately identifying the presence of soft plaque — a less dense and more vulnerable type of arterial buildup that is more likely to rupture and cause blockages — we can offer a precise assessment of your current heart disease risk. This enables early intervention and timely preventative measures reducing the likelihood of life-threatening events. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US (United States), often manifesting as heart attacks without prior symptoms, so early detection and intervention are very important in saving lives.

The future of AI in medicine?

The future of medicine will likely be driven by artificial intelligence. Large tech companies, medical companies and hospital systems have invested time and money into harnessing the power of AI for the healthcare industry. Organizations are tasked with finding AI solutions to disease diagnosis, emergency room triage and medication reconciliation. There are many areas of inquiry within healthcare that could benefit from

Still, Dr. Messier doesn’t believe that AI is a danger to the practice of medicine. She believes that “doctors that don’t use AI will be replaced because it gives them a much better toolkit and allows us to see things in a much better view…so it’s really an important component. We’re always on the lookout for new AI technology that we can incorporate the appropriate vetting. And a lot of these technologies are FDA approved, so they’re very, very helpful, and I think they should be adopted and used much more widely.”