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MOU signed to develop a priority sorting system for brain scans for head injury patients

By Marcia Lee

11 Jun 2019 | Tomorrow's Medicine, The Straits Times


(From left) Benjamin Hong, CEO of Iota Medtech, and Associate Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Medical Director of the National Neuroscience Institute, pose in front of a computerised tomography scan machine, which produces brain scans for analysis.PHOTO: NATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE INSTITUTE

SINGAPORE - The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and a local medical technology company have teamed up to develop a system to sort brain scans of head injury patients in order of urgency.

NNI and Iota Medtech, a company specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) and surgical robotics, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the collaboration on Tuesday (June 11).

The priority sorting system being developed will ensure that patients requiring immediate medical attention receive it.

It would also help radiologists interpret brain scans at a much higher speed and will be cost-effective as well as it does away with the need for more manpower or manhours.

Associate Professor Ng Wai Hoe, medical director of NNI, said that 70 to 100 brain scans were received every day and radiologists interpreted them in chronological order.

One issue with the current system was significant waiting time for head injury patients requiring urgent treatment, especially when scans were received after radiologists' working hours.

The algorithm developed by NNI would sort brain scans using a "triage system", with each scan labelled red, amber or green according to the urgency of medical attention.

Head injury was chosen as the initial focus of the system in accordance with current patient demands, said Mr Benjamin Hong, CEO of Iota Medtech.

NNI treats close to 500 people with head injuries each year, and head injury is the leading cause of disability and death in adults under 40 years of age. Those 75 and older have the highest rates of head injury-related hospitalisation and death, making such injuries a big concern due to Singapore's ageing population.

Iota Medtech's algorithm has already passed laboratory tests for accuracy, said Prof Ng, and NNI will be providing data of brain scans to continually increase the accuracy of the system. He emphasised that the sharing of the data will be in accordance with guidelines in the Personal Data Protection Act.

The system will also be tested in a clinical setting, with its accuracy compared against that of radiologists in NNI.

Before being implemented in hospitals, it will have to go through regulatory approval processes by the Health Sciences Authority which will take "quite a while", said Mr Hong.

Eventually, the system developed by NNI and Iota Medtech can be modified to treat other common conditions such as stroke and glioma (a type of brain tumour), he added.


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