An AI-powered, virtual platform is being developed to improve care for patients living with genetic disorders, as part of a Digital Health CRC project led by Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Swinburne University of Technology.

The online cloud-based platform will initially focus on familial cancers and cardiac conditions, providing patients with guidance on how to find specialist care, support for clinical and psychological issues and clinical trial updates.

Utilising a unique AI-driven algorithm, the platform also aims to identify and alert genetic counsellors to specific sub-group of patients at key life stages, or who are at risk of not adhering to management recommendations. This triage facility will enable time-sensitive clinical and psychological support to be efficiently targeted to the most clinically vulnerable people.

Associate Professor Alison Trainer, a Clinical Geneticist at Peter Mac, said access to genetic testing had improved over the years leading to more people with a high-risk genetic predisposition for disease being identified.

“Identifying these patients is only the first step in reducing mortality and morbidity, equally important is making sure they can access world-class care for the rest of their lives,” Associate Professor Trainer said.

“We can support this with new tools to help our genetic counsellors respond quickly to individuals’ needs, providing ready access to the right information and support at the right time. That is what is envisioned with this technology.”

Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman, Director, Factory of the Future and Digital Innovation Lab at Swinburne, commented on the potential of the AI technology to address the gap in genetic counselling.

“AI-based digital health platforms can support early intervention by using genetic mutation data and advanced AI algorithms to automatically identify individuals at risk,” Associate Professor Jayaraman said.

“This platform is envisioned as a life-long companion for individuals at risk, providing them with instant access to information and support services.”

The project commences this year with a planned two-year timeline. The core objectives of the project include:

  1. Co-design and develop the platform to align with healthcare professional and patients’ needs and preferences, ensuring a interactive and user-friendly platform.

  1. Design and develop seamless integration of patient or specialist-entered clinical data collected via the platform into a specialist CGS familial database.

  1. Develop and integrate AI algorithms into the platform based on data captured and held in other linked databases. A stakeholder focus group will be organised to determine the priority of the following features that will be incorporated in the development of AI algorithms.

  1. Trial the platform in the Clinical Genetic Service setting at Parkville Familial Cancer Services Centre at Peter Mac, and develop the role of a genetic counsellor digital care coordinator.

  1. Develop a business case, business model and market analysis to inform a commercialisation pathway for the platform.

Digital Health Chief Innovation Officer, Dr Stefan Harrer, said the project was an exciting next step in utilising the power of AI, combined with end-user needs, to support the health system while building a product that has the potential to contribute to Australia’s digital health economy.

"This project includes AI-driven recommender algorithms to deliver targeted value to consumers by individually matching carers and patients. We see this as an important step to bring precision medicine to genetic counselling,” Dr Harrer said.

Contacts:

Digital Health CRC

The Digital Health CRC (DHCRC) brings together Australia's health and aged care sectors, industry and academia. Working together, we invest in research and development to support the growth of a strong digital health industry, improve patient outcomes and experience and deliver sustainable digital health solutions. The DHCRC is a $155M organisation funded through the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resource’s Cooperative Research Program, and supported by our Participant organisations including universities, healthcare providers and industry.

Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.

Swinburne University of Technology

Swinburne University of Technology is a dual-sector institution, defined and inspired by technology and innovation, and renowned for our strong industry and community engagement. With a vision to bring people and technology together to build a better world, our people are driven by a shared purpose: to create tomorrow’s technology and the human capital and talent required for a digital, tech-rich future.