Finding the right preventive approach, diagnosis and treatment at the click of a button: That is the vision of the MED²ICIN lighthouse project. The use of digital twins is common practice in many industries. The development of a digital patient model has the potential to revolutionise the healthcare industry, because the more targeted and effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment are, the better and more cost-effective the treatment will be.
The declared aim of MED²ICIN is to create a holistic digital patient model by merging previously (temporally and spatially) distributed and partly unstructured multidimensional health and disease data of individuals to form a digital image. This offers tremendous potential for improving the treatment of individuals as well as the more intelligent use of healthcare in the context of society as a whole.
Effective limitation of healthcare costs through smarter use of available resources requires technology-driven innovations for improved prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Early attempts are underway to utilize human medical data to the benefit of patients and to apply research findings with a view to achieving better healthcare efficiency and commercialization. Through this pilot project, Fraunhofer can play an internationally visible and pioneering role, creating a unique selling proposition that goes far beyond existing, partially related approaches, such as electronic patient records or IBM’s Watson. This data-protection-compliant merger of individual-related medical data in a form that has previously never been considered, let alone realized, combined with intelligent data analysis is creating a novel solution which, in addition to direct users (doctors, hospitals, patients, research institutions) focusses on a number of potential commercial users such as life science companies, technology providers in healthcare IT, and health insurers. This will create a completely new segment in a dynamic, fast-growing market in which Fraunhofer can gain an early foothold.
The digital patient model to be developed will be evaluated and implemented using the example of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and oncological diseases. The two disease entities selected are particularly costly due to lengthy treatment and/or high treatment costs. The vision of MED²ICIN is to create a digital patient model which physicians can use to input patient-specific data. The data can then be used to carry out analyses based on extensive cohort knowledge, clinical guidelines and health economic models. Doctors receive data-driven decision support that seeks out the best individualized therapy, while maintaining cost-effective care. A human-centred and user-friendly interactive design ensures that the handling of data and analysis results is tailored to each specific user.
The outstanding interdisciplinary scientific expertise of the seven participating Fraunhofer Institutes provides a unique environment for developing such a digital patient model. In addition to technological knowhow – especially in the areas of AI, machine learning, knowledge extraction and modeling, data management and data visualization – the institutes have the required expertise in terms of the clinical setting, relevant guidelines and translational medicine.