Artificial intelligence (AI) can help frontline clinicians rapidly improve treatments and patient outcomes when fighting COVID-19 – and Queensland has a role to play in harnessing this modern medical tool.

That’s the message Professor John Fraser delivered recently at BIO Digital 2020, during an expert panel entitled ‘Can AI prevent pandemics?’

BIO is the world’s largest gathering of global biotech and pharma industry players and moved online this year for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Fraser – a practising intensive care specialist and director of the Critical Care Research Group – recently helped establish the COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium, which has teamed up with global tech player IBM and data scientists at The University of Queensland and QUT to support frontline clinicians.

Professor Fraser said copious amounts of data had been collected by clinicians in daily practice from their COVID-19 patients and it was critical to bring this data together to make it an effective tool.

‘It was a little bit like the X-files – the truth was out there already and our job was to bring the jigsaw puzzle pieces together and make it easy to do for the clinicians,’ Professor Fraser said.

‘Literally hundreds of thousands of individual pieces of ICU patient data spread around the world are a huge resource but their potential cannot be realised in isolation.

‘If we can create a database with a user-friendly dashboard where we bring these disparate pieces of data together, we start to create a picture of what’s going on.

‘Ideally, the dashboard will be able to sit on the doctor’s phone or tablet so he or she can access the most up-to-date global data and experience at the bedside at 2 or 3am.

‘Speaking to clinicians at our member sites in 52 countries, this is exactly what they want.’

The COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium worked with The University of Queensland and approached IBM for help to create the specialised dashboard, which will ultimately harness machine learning to generate clinical insights about which treatments and interventions might be most effective for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

TIQ Principal Trade and Investment Officer Alita Singer connected Professor Fraser with the organisers of BIO Digital 2020 who invited him to speak during the special ‘Can AI prevent pandemics?’ session.

Professor Fraser said a global pandemic meant the scientific community needed to look for a global solution.

‘It’s like what Bill Gates said when he talked about Ebola – just bring the data together and let us analyse it cleverly and freely so that the rich countries and the poor countries have access to the same data.

‘We need to look clinically at AI to see how we can improve outcomes rapidly, effectively, cheaply and equally across the globe.’

The Queensland dashboard has collated deidentified patient data from over 370 hospitals and clinics, including Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University.

Over 7,000 participants from 64 countries participated in BIO Digital 2020 from 8 to 12 June 2020.

Professor Fraser’s session was broadcast on demand as part of BIO Digital and is also available as a recording to participants who registered for BIO.

The Queensland Government is committed to building Queensland’s AI capabilities and global connections. In May this year it announced the establishment of the Queensland AI Hub as part of the $755 million Advance Queensland initiative.

The biotech and biomedicine sector is identified as an emerging export strength in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

To learn more about Queensland’s biotech sector, connect with TIQ today.

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