UK Researchers Combine AI with Medical Monitoring Technology

UK Researchers Combine AI with Medical Monitoring Technology

The promise of wearables as technology that could improve human health took a giant step forward when researchers at the University of Surrey (England) announced they had developed a system combining artificial intelligence (AI) with medical monitoring technology to detect urinary tract infections (UTIs) among dementia patients still living at home.

Researchers working on the Technology Integrated Health Management program recently published a paper explaining the technology and how it was tested in an NHS clinical trial. They claim that by using what is known as non-negative matrix factorization along with artificial intelligence, they were able to identify early UTI symptoms in patients without seeing them in person.

Remotely Monitoring Patients

The clinical trial involved remotely monitoring dementia patients still living at home. Researchers took advantage of internet enabled monitoring devices that kept track of patient activity and vital signs. Data streaming from the devices was collected, put through signal processing algorithms, and analyzed by researchers. AI was used to make sense of the data before it was presented to clinicians for their analysis.

According to the researchers, advanced signal processing along with AI and their monitoring devices have enabled them to create a system capable of “improving the healthcare of people with dementia and providing a tool for clinicians to offer better support to their patients.”

The easiest way to understand this is to imagine using a couple of wearables that monitor both your activity and your vital signs. Those wearables send data to your doctor’s office over the internet. At the office, there is a computer that employs signal processing and artificial intelligence to make sense of the received data.

At some point, the system tells your doctor you are exhibiting the early warning signs of a UTI. So your doctor calls you in, examines you, and writes a prescription to fight the infection. What could have potentially been a serious problem is mitigated through early detection and treatment.

UTIs in Dementia Patients

Understanding why UTIs are so serious for dementia patients provides a clear illustration as to why advanced signal processing, artificial intelligence, and wearable devices are so critical to the future of healthcare. The first thing to know is that UTIs are the number one cause of hospitalization among dementia patients.

A UTI in a healthy person can be managed fairly effectively. In a dementia patient though, it is a different ballgame. UTIs can cause something known as delirium in dementia patients, a condition that can lead to a patient becoming more confused, agitated, and withdrawn. And if a dementia patient cannot explain how he or she feels, it can be nearly impossible for a doctor to figure out what is going on.

All of this is made worse by the fact that delirium caused by a UTI can actually accelerate the progress of dementia-related diseases. So it’s critical that doctors address UTIs in dementia patients as quickly as possible. A preventative strategy is the best strategy of all.

Early Detection and Prediction

What researchers are doing at the University of Surrey illustrates the potential of modern technology to improve human health. Their system of early detection could mean fewer dementia patients admitted to hospitals for UTIs. That is a good starting point.

In the future, the same technologies now being used by those researchers might possibly be used to develop predictive analysis strategies. That could lead to predicting UTIs even before the onset of early symptoms, making it possible to minimize the risk of developing UTIs so that they are never a problem to begin with. Wouldn’t that be something?

Categories: Technology

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