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From Life Sciences to Life Services

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By Graeme Cox, CEO and co-founder of virtual reality tech firm emteq labs.

The greatest promise that AI presents to human health is the opportunity to shift to personalised models of care, moving us from discussion of Life Sciences to a focus on Life Services – a refocus from cure to prevention, driven by data and putting power in the hands of the individual. By ‘personalised’ I mean both the personalised nature of the service and also the need to get physically close to the individual (e.g. with sensors), delivering a sufficient value to each person receiving care to enable trust, and thus to persuade them to part with fairly intimate data in return.

As such, secure, reliable access to personal data that is consciously and willingly shared by each healthcare system participant is the key requirement of future healthcare AI solutions.

This promise of individually tracked healthcare data will enable us to make decisions and to change behaviours that will drive healthier, happier – and longer – lives, and one key measure in this data will be that of emotional tracking – the quantification of changes in our moods and stress together with data on the behaviours and activities that trigger these changes. This tracking of emotional state as a digital biomarker of health can better inform the medical and health advice we receive, diagnosis of health conditions, and interventions to improve health outcomes.

However, in order for us to experience the benefits that AI-driven personalised medicine can offer, we need to feel empowered by the advice we receive, and not be slaves to technology. And above all else, we need to believe that our data is secure and used for our collective and individual benefits – not primarily for corporate profit.

This can best be achieved by allowing individuals to own their data in perpetuity, not only controlling how and where it may be used, but also to ensure that value – and even revenue – may be generated from it. Healthtech companies that find ways to incentivise patients to share their data will create thriving, transparent networks and encourage innovation.

In developing the technology stack in emteq labs I have found myself at the frontier of a revolutionary field, working with cutting-edge simulation, biometric data, sensors and machine learning to build tools for the quantification of emotional state and response. Whilst we are just starting to understand the applications of these technologies and the behavioural responses that may be modelled, in the future, we hope to build personalised models of behaviour that account for an individual’s own baselines, trends and responses to stimuli. It is my belief that, by developing a standardised methodology for emotion research, we can drive significant improvements, not only in our medical interventions and personalised treatments but also in other sectors such as entertainment and education. In this way, AI developed in a healthcare setting can be used to help support and upgrade other industries.

For example, personalised grading of stress response could be used to measure the impact of and response to exposure therapy, improving treatment of phobias, reducing the anxiety of social interactions such as public speaking or creating higher resilience in blue-light key workers who deal with stressful and emotionally intense situations. Similarly, better data and understanding of the range of ‘normal’ responses to existing therapeutic interventions could be a means to developing new treatments for mental health conditions. As we advance the technology and create personalised models, therapies could be specifically designed to resonate more closely with patients than ever before, and self-therapy could be made safer and more effective. Virtual reality (VR) could be used to immerse ourselves in a familiar simulation, measure our reactions and progress to provide personalised advice as feedback and advancement.

The convergence of AI and VR opens the door to a deeper understanding of human emotion and behaviour. Read more about the power of AI and VR in the science of emotions in our White Paper: Measuring What Matters in Immersive Environments.

Insights in this article have been taken from the report AI in Healthcare: Perspectives on a Changing Sector from The AI Journal.

Graeme Cox is the CEO and Co-founder of emteq labs. Graeme studied Computer Science and AI at university and is an AI and high-tech business entrepreneur.

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