A new digital research institute will utilize patients’ medical information gathered from the national health funds to predict colon cancer and other diseases, Globes reported on Thursday.
Biomed investor Morris Kahn, predictive analytics expert Prof. Kira Radinsky and Maccabi Health Services are joining forces in the $6 million project, to be managed by Maccabi Institute for Research and Innovation head Prof. Varda Shalev.
“Israel has an extremely special advantage in digital medical information,” Kahn told Globes. “Our health funds have collected unusual information, both because patients tend to stay with the same health fund for many years, and because the health funds underwent the digital revolution at an early stage.”
Varda Shalev says,” At this very moment, our doctors are spending time with patients and improving our information. We were so alarmed about putting that delicate meeting between a doctor and his patient on the computer. We now realize that the computer brings so much added value to that meeting. Doctors can’t do everything.”
Radinsky has been working in the field for over a decade. “I began to deal with this question 12 years ago as a Microsoft researcher. By examining correlations, we succeeded in discovering side effects of drugs and formulating their sequence. For example, we discovered that if a person is taking a given drug, and then experiences a headache accompanied by nausea, he should go to the doctor to make sure that something worse won’t happen.”
Tracing the outbreak of Ebola provided an example of how predictive analytics works. “From the data, the system realized that when a certain country is looking for gold and diamonds, it causes forests to be burned, and animals to move. What is the connection? Only by reading articles about the possible sources of the Ebola infection can the system come up with the hypothesis that cutting down the forests really causes the migration of bats from the forest to settled locations, and that cases of Ebola were caused by eating uncooked meat from a bat. We went back to the descriptions of the case and the doctors, and verified the hypothesis with them.”
The potential for the system is immense. High on the list of diseases to be analyzed are diabetes and urinary infections.