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

iCAD Reports Strong Momentum of ProFound AI for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
News | Artificial Intelligence | March 26, 2019
iCAD Inc. reported strong adoption of its latest deep-learning, cancer detection software solution for digital breast...
NVIDIA Launches Clara AI Toolkit for Algorithm Development
News | Artificial Intelligence | March 25, 2019
NVIDIA introduced Clara AI, a toolkit that includes 13 classification and segmentation artificial intelligence (AI)...
Improving Molecular Imaging Using a Deep Learning Approach
News | Nuclear Imaging | March 21, 2019
Generating comprehensive molecular images of organs and tumors in living organisms can be performed at ultra-fast speed...
DrChrono and 3D4Medical Partner to Bring 3-D Interactive Modeling to Physician Practices
News | Advanced Visualization | March 18, 2019
DrChrono Inc. and 3D4Medical have teamed up so practices across the United States can access 3-D interactive modeling...
Jennifer N. A. Silva, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Mo., describes “mixed reality” at ACC19 Future Hub.

Jennifer N. A. Silva, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Mo., describes “mixed reality” at ACC19 Future Hub.

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 17, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Virtual reality (VR) and its less immersive kin, augmented reality (AR), are gaining traction in some medical applica
WVU cardiology chief Partho Sengupta, M.D., describes at ACC 2019 how artificial intelligence already helps cardiologists in echocardiography.

WVU cardiology chief Partho Sengupta, M.D., describes at ACC 2019 how artificial intelligence already helps cardiologists in echocardiography. Photo by Greg Freiherr

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 16, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Machine learning is already having an enormous impact on cardiology, automatically calculating measurements in echoca
Sponsored Content | Videos | Enterprise Imaging | March 15, 2019
As a VNA, GE Healthcare Ce
Bay Labs Announces New Data on EchoGPS, AutoEF AI Software at ACC.19
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | March 15, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) company Bay Labs announced the presentation of two studies assessing performance of the...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Artificial Intelligence | March 13, 2019
At RSNA 2018, iCad showed how its...
Lucence Diagnostics to Develop AI Tools for Liver Cancer Treatment

Pseudocolor accentuated CT scan image of a liver tumor. Image courtesy of Lucence Diagnostics.

News | Oncology Diagnostics | March 12, 2019
Genomic medicine company Lucence Diagnostics announced a new project to develop artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms...