Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | Information Technology| February 14, 2019

HIMSS 2019 Thursday - Siemens Showcases Development of Virtual Organs

Siemens featured digitalization and the prospect of a “digital twin” in its HIMSS19 booth

Siemens featured digitalization and the prospect of a “digital twin” in its HIMSS19 booth. Photo by Greg Freiherr

At its booth on the exhibit floor of the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS19) meeting, Siemens Healthineers called on visitors to meet their “digital twin.”

This twin, illustrated by virtual organs, was part of the company’s theme at the HIMSS meeting of “Digitalizing Healthcare,” one made possible by the venue, which emphasizes “IT and data understanding,” said Joerg Aumueller, Siemens head of Digitalizing Healthcare and a marketing vice president. The annual HIMSS meeting is “about the target groups, like the chief information officers, that are interested in how can we use (patient data) and derive values to be more precise or transform care.”

According to Aumueller, the digitalization effort shown at HIMSS addresses “how you opertionalize the value of data and also how we connect the care teams and patients better.”

A digital twin of the kind envisioned by Siemens would allow caregivers to digitally “try out” treatments, then — theoretically — choose the treatment likely to achieve the best outcome.

 

Information As Foundation For Care

Siemens has long contended that information is the cornerstone of healthcare. But it was the HIMSS show environment that brought digitalization into the spotlight.

Digital twins bridge the worlds of physicality and data. In concept, such a “twin” would exactly replicate a person’s anatomy and function, creating the opportunity to simulate therapy. Virtual reality reconstructions from CT and MRI scans are already in use. But these have been anatomical, creating the opportunity to plan and rehearse surgeries, such as those of the brain.

The digital twin envisioned by Siemens would go beyond VR to simulate the functionality of an organ, such as the heart. And it need not involve just the heart. Smart algorithms could “learn” the function of virtually any organ in the body, potentially by mining data from patient images and the electronic medical record.  

The development of virtual organs expresses “a vision to represent the electronic health record into a longitudinal physiological model of the patient potentially acting as a preventive health coach in the future,” Aumueller told ITN

If MRI and electrocardiography data were derived, for example, from an individual patient, the digital twin’s heart could exactly mirror the behavior of the patient’s real heart, displaying the same electrical activity, contraction, ejection fraction and pressure dynamics. This would allow for the digital rehearsal of not only the placement of a pacemaker, for example, but also assessment of the device after placement.

The increasing pressure on healthcare to deliver value — defined as better quality care at lower costs — would seem ideally suited to such digitalization, as digital twins promise the delivery of improved patient outcomes and avoidance of unnecessary surgeries. A digital simulation of the entire patient could allow illnesses to be predicted weeks or months ahead. So also might the digital twin of a patient be used to predict the patient’s response to different therapies. 

Just as this might revolutionize the practice of medicine, so is it highly speculative.  Digital representations of a whole patient would require the gathering and interpretation of data on an unprecedented scale, requiring not only functional but cellular and even genomic information.

 

Industry Interest In Digital Twins

Siemens is not alone in its R&D of a digital twin. Both GE and Philips are known to be developing similar digitalizations. At HIMSS19, however, only Siemens chose to highlight it as a centerpiece of digitalization. Its “twinning” efforts were displayed in the context of broader AI efforts.

One, Siemens’ AI-Rad Companion platform, was described as an intelligent software assistant for radiology. Its derivative applications — the first being Chest CT (computed tomography)  component, which is pending FDA clearance — will model specific  anatomies and how diseases change them. High priority organs and structures include the lungs, heart, aorta and coronary arteries. Output will be quantitative reports.

Similarly, Siemens’ AI-Pathway Companion, a works-in-progress, is being designed as a clinical decision support system for providers when making diagnoses and choosing therapies. It incorporates clinical guidelines so as to optimize processes, making patient management more efficient and consistent.

 

Related content:

VIDEO: Example of How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Patient Care

Siemens Healthineers Debuts AI-Rad Companion Chest CT

Related Content

News | Cybersecurity | August 20, 2019
Healthcare data breaches are currently being reported at a rate of more than one a day, according to a new report from...
Lunit Receives Korea MFDS Approval for Lunit Insight MMG
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 19, 2019
Lunit has announced Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) approval of its artificial intelligence (AI) solution...
Artificial Intelligence Could Yield More Accurate Breast Cancer Diagnoses
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 13, 2019
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that...
The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | August 13, 2019
Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate...
Lake Medical Imaging Selects Infinitt for Multi-site RIS/PACS
News | PACS | August 09, 2019
Infinitt North America will be implementing Infinitt RIS (radiology information system)/PACS (picture archiving and...
Half of Hospital Decision Makers Plan to Invest in AI by 2021
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 08, 2019
August 8, 2019 — A recent study conducted by Olive AI explores how hospital leaders are responding to the imperative
NetDirector Launches Cloud-based PDF to DICOM Conversion Service
News | PACS | August 08, 2019
NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange and integration platform, has diversified their radiology automation options...
ScImage Introduces PICOM ModalityGuard for Cybersecurity
Technology | Cybersecurity | August 07, 2019
ScImage Inc. is bridging the gap between security and functionality with the introduction of the PICOM ModalityGuard....
Artificial Intelligence Improves Heart Attack Risk Assessment
News | CT Angiography (CTA) | August 06, 2019
When used with a common heart scan, machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence (AI), does better than...
Montefiore Nyack Hospital Uses Aidoc AI to Spot Urgent Conditions Faster
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 05, 2019
Montefiore Nyack Hospital, an acute care hospital in Rockland County, N.Y., announced it is utilizing artificial...