Women of Wearables: Transforming Healthcare with AI

In the last year, we have seen transformation of healthcare in ways we might not have expected, and is now more accessible, driven by technology and focused on prevention.  As part of the Women of Wearables conference, I attended a panel discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) can transform healthcare. The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in adoption of AI and adoption of digital technology. The panel discussed the challenges and benefits of using AI within their respective sectors.

It might be thought that regulations may be the biggest barrier to innovation within healthcare, but, Rebecca Wray, Associate Director in Digital Health Oncology at Astra Zeneca said it is the quality of data, and access to it. Access to large-scale, quality data is hugely expensive, and can be a major barrier. Hadeel Ayoub, founder of start-up BrightSign explained how this impacted her, and it meant she chose to collect her own data.

New solutions requiring new data, existing data being held inconsistently and lack of access to data due to privacy concerns pose further challenges for AI in healthcare. The panel also discussed the problems in research and development of AI, especially regarding inbuilt biases that may emerge. Melissa Berthelot, CEO of WarnerPatch explained that all data will be biased to some extent, and is recognised when ethical approval is sought.

One of my investments, Owkin, which I have invested in alongside Brent Hoberman, transforms data into knowledge, and combats some of these challenges. Owkin recognised that researchers, doctors and biologists benefit from available data, however, being able to extract insights becomes more challenging. Owkin’s solution is to build collective intelligence from distributed data at scale, which can provide personalised treatments for everyone without impacting on privacy.

Currently, we cannot expect AI to replace human intuitive aspects, as algorithms cannot assess the context of a patient’s life, but it can be employed in certain situations to alleviate pressure on doctors. As an investor in this space, I am excited to see how AI continues to contribute to innovation within healthcare, ultimately developing faster and more effective treatments for patients.