In lieu of our flagship event of the year, AIMed encouraged anyone who has innovative ideas of how artificial intelligence (AI) will transform the future of medicine and healthcare, to participate in our annual Abstract Competition. Thus far, we have showcased Richard Chen; winner of the Precision Medicine & Drug Discovery category as well as Marc Raynaud, who clinched the title for the Decision Support and Hospital Monitoring category. This week, we have yet another winner who share with our fellow readers, her idea, inspirations, and the kind of impact she will like to create.

Name of the winner: Devika Rajan

Winning Category: Medical Imaging & Biomedical Diagnostics Category

Abstract Title: Improving patient understanding of diagnosis and treatment via personalized visual aids through MIA

AIMed: For the benefit of readers who do not know you, could you please tell us more about yourself and your abstract idea?

Devika Rajan:I am a sophomore at the University of Washington planning on studying neuroscience. I am also one of the summer interns at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County’s (CHOC) Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (MI3). I formulated my abstract idea during the internship as we were put to write about an innovation that can be implemented in the healthcare industry to solve a present challenge.

My proposed idea was MIA or short for Medical Illustration Aid. Basically, what it intends to do is to help clinicians in explaining their diagnoses to patients. I realized sometimes, it can be difficult for physicians to fully and accurately explain the diagnoses to patients with a lot of transparency. On one hand, physicians need to present the information in a way which facilitates patients’ understanding of their conditions. On the other hand, physicians are afraid to overwhelm the patients.

I thought bridging the gap between what’s being said and what’s being heard can be challenging, so I began playing with the idea and thought we could make use of objective drawing and diagrams to fit the needs of physicians and patients. As such, I wished to develop a voice-activated “smart board” that is interactive and can display various 2D, 3D or holographic images, which either rotates on the board or in space.

MIA is connected to patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs) to ensure all shared information are either real-time or up-to-date. It is also driven by artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) algorithms which take into consideration of the physicians’ preferred way of presenting and patients’ level of understanding. Overall, MIA is a precise, comprehensive, and individualized way of communicating.

AIMed: What inspired you to formulate this idea?

Rajan: During the MI3 internship, I got to shadow physicians at CHOC to the outpatient surgery clinic. Over there, I noticed a whiteboard with pictures, signs, and explanations on it. Later when I was at the pulmonary clinic, I noticed the same thing: a whiteboard with signs of asthma on a diagram. The same for the neurology clinic too. Often, when patients come in, doctors will pick a marker and start writing or drawing on these whiteboards as they walk patients through their conditions and needs.

At that moment, I thought how great it will be if every physician has one of these whiteboards in hand, one which they can make references to as they explain to patients what is going on. These whiteboards will come with accurate illustrations or holographic images of, let say, heart or chest abnormalities or things like that, anytime, anywhere. I guess this will make it more comprehensible for the patients and more convenient for the physicians as well.

AIMed: What does winning the Abstract Competition mean to you?

Rajan: It feels pretty surreal but at the same time, I feel more confident. Initially, going up against some very well-known figures and physicians in the field and speaking openly my idea was a scary thing. But now that I have won this competition, I have gained a lot of faith in this idea. In fact, I may want to use my abstract to participate in other events or conferences, hopefully, from there I can gain new experiences and see my idea taking shape.

AIMed: In that case, how will you like to bring your idea further?

Rajan: I will love to test MIA in a clinical setting one day. I see its value in many clinics; I believe it’s something that can be widely used in a hospital setting and it’s something which both clinicians and patients will appreciate having as it is a tool designed for them.

Nevertheless, I may need to seek help from a team of experts. I will need to be coached by physicians, developers, data scientists and so on since this is my first AI project. I am in school right now and that adds on to the challenge. Thus, most likely I may just go and talk to some people and ask for more opinions to kick start MIA’s actual development.

AIMed: It has been a long way from the MI3 internship, formulating an abstract idea, to participating in the Abstract Competition and winning, what’s the greatest lesson you have learnt so far?

Rajan: I think one of the greatest lessons I have learnt is that, it’s ok to fail and it’s ok not to know everything. I developed a separate idea at first and I thought it would be good, so I started pitching it to Dr. Sharief Taraman, who was in charge of running the MI3 internship program. However, Dr. Taraman had doubts about it as it was very similar to those already existed in the market. I was told I have to make my idea unique, a comment which I did not expect as I would like to develop something which I really like and be proud of.

I began thinking about it more and it was my last shadowing session at the surgery clinic when the idea of MIA came to me. I realized this time I could move it on, so I was glad I made the correction even when I didn’t get it the first time. I truly believe the entire experience was rewarding because for as long as I can remember, I have always been attracted to medicine, but I never thought about the technology behind it, let alone the MI3 summer internship program which combines the two.

I joined the MI3 internship thinking it was an amazing program. I know technology is really important especially for my generation but I have never thought it will also benefit the teaching and delivery of medicine and healthcare, so I regard this whole journey as an eye-opening experience. One which is so willing to open doors for young people like myself; in finding out our passion for medicine/technology and including us in the conversations.

As such, I’m very grateful that someone my age had the opportunity to attend such a ground-breaking conference. I will like to express my heart-felt thank you to Dr. Chang and Dr. Taraman for their constant encouragement and supporting young people in being a part of these discussions.


Author Bio

Hazel Tang A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.