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UniSR with Microsoft to build the healthcare of the future

26 October 2022
The University

Launched the strategic partnership between Microsoft, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele (UniSR) and IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele (Gruppo San Donato). Singular trial in Europe, combining the clinical knowledge of multidisciplinary teams with the latest digital innovations.

Artificial Intelligence and the state of art

There are several Artificial Intelligence solutions developed in the world to date, with the aim of supporting doctors in the diagnosis of diseases - reducing the time and increasing the accuracy of the same -, increasing the ability to predict prognostic, better classifying patients to guide personalized therapeutic choices. Very few of these, however, come to be really present in the path of patient care. The reason why these solutions do not achieve clinical practice is due to multiple factors that undermine their reliability and credibility, including the scarcity, fragmentation and quality of the same data used to train artificial intelligence systems.

In this context, an innovative digital platform for data management has been developed to catalogue, classify, collect, standardize and analyze the huge amount of data of IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, a structure that records almost 1,500,000 accesses per year, valuing the data themselves, the scientific and informative value of the so-called “real world clinical data” to promote a holistic vision of the patient, to support a faster and more accurate diagnosis of diseases, to evolve and to customize care, to improve communication between doctors and patients.

This partnership, that began long ago, in the creation of an experimental platform, born during the Covid-19 pandemic from an idea of professors Antonio Esposito and Carlo Tacchetti, to stratify in a few minutes the clinical risk level and to define the most appropriate treatment path for patients arriving in the emergency department: hospitalization in ward or in intensive care, or monitoring at home.

Artificial Intelligence and healthcare

This challenge has led Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, Microsoft Italia - and two Microsoft partner companies (Porini and Orobix) - to work together, allowing the hospital to understand the impact of digital, and in particular of Artificial Intelligence, in healthcare, and to the technological partners how important it was to have at the work table clinical and scientists to develop reliable solutions and really useful in daily clinical practice. At the same time, an in-depth analysis was made of the requirements for ensuring data quality, interoperability, security and governance. It is a path that today is reaching a turning point, placing the actors involved as a pioneer of a digital transformation necessary in order to respond promptly to medicine present and future challenges and, at the same time, to generate value for patients and for the healthcare system.

The experimentation of Artificial Intelligence solutions is already in an advanced stage of realization in the treatment of the pathology of lung cancer non-small cell lung, allowing to support the selection of patients eligible for immunotherapy. Medical staff will be able to leverage the results and analysis of AI solutions to significantly increase the success rate of therapy, currently only 45%, but also to offer a different therapy to patients who are not eligible, giving them an alternative treatment option, which was excluded until now. Technology also enables to progress towards so-called Value Based Healthcare, making the healthcare system more sustainable to ensure fair access to targeted care by an increasing number of patients.

Other trials based on the Artificial Intelligence platform are already in place to support treatments for other diseases, including kidney cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The success of this project key word is synergy: the creation of multidisciplinary teams, where clinical, technological and data science skills will be combined, will not only allow us to continue with rapid and decisive steps towards personalized medicine, but will allow our university and research center to attract specific skills also in the IT field, in close connection with the healthcare excellence that for years is our point of pride. We warmly thank Professor Andrea Salonia, Full Professor of Urology, and Professor Lorenzo Piemonti, Full Professor of Endocrinology, at Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, with whom we are developing innovative solutions in their respective fields of competence

commented Professors Carlo Tacchetti, Full Professor of Human Anatomy, and Antonio Esposito, Full Professor of Radiology, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, project coordinators.

The partnership with Microsoft will allow UniSR to adopt the most innovative technologies and services, enabled by Cloud Computing (Machine Teaching, Digital Twins, HPC and Quantum Computing, OpenAI) and, at the same time, to internalize the best skills and methodologies for developing AI-based solutions (Agile/MLOps).

Another innovation accelerator of the partnership lies in the ecosystem of vertical partners of Microsoft in the Healthcare sector, including the component of Experience Design and Digital Enablement, which has been amplified in the new work program 2022-2025, in order to ensure the best user experience on all access channels to new services based on machine learning algorithms that will be made available to end users (doctors and/or other selected users).

“We are happy to expand our collaboration with Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele and IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele and we are proud to provide our Artificial Intelligence solutions and the direct expertise of Microsoft Consulting to improve patient care. Today, thanks to the AI innovation, it is possible to carry out rapid analysis and processing of large amounts of data to allow targeted and customized therapies for patients, while contributing to medical research activities. A great innovation area for our health and for citizens”

commented Silvia Candiani, CEO of Microsoft Italy.

“Gruppo San Donato is the first Italian biomedical research center, which focuses on young brains of our country. Our goal is to become in two years the healthtech Itlaian and European reference point, the medicine of the future combining artificial intelligence and health. That can be thought only with a joint work between hospitals, universities and companies, through doctors and computer engineers training, called to operate together, not in a laboratory, but in the patient bed, to find the solutions of the future”

commented Paolo Rotelli, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele president Gruppo San Donato vice-president.

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