TSB VentureFest Wales, Cardiff, 11th July 2014
The seminar explored the ever-increasing level of partnership between man and machine in a clinical environment and the opportunities this presents to both clinicians and UK PLC. I began with a look back over my 35 years as a cardiac surgeon, recalling how the job used to be much more 'hands-on' as tests such as ECGs, MRIs and CT scans - things taken for granted nowadays by medical professionals - were not available, meaning doctors had to rely on their clinical findings. Whilst modern day investigative tools such as these are not a substitute for good clinical practice, they do improve outcomes and make patient care safer.
Every single aspect of the clinician-patient interaction generates data. From the four basic pillars of clinical medicine (inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation), through all aspects of medical gadgetry (ECGs, CT scans, MRIs) and through blood tests, genomic data and patient demographics, to name but a few sources of patient information, there is a massive volume of data collected from each patient admitted - numerical, visual and auditory. Converting this data to useful information is a challenge; of even greater complexity is combining this information with experience in order to distil 'wisdom'.
Concepts such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, 3D printing of body parts, and computers that can understand natural human language were also touched upon, as well as the commercial opportunities they provide and their potential applications in the health-space.. Also present at the event was a hands-on display of robotic drills developed at Brunel University, designed to stop drilling automatically when an interface is encountered - accurate to the point of being able to drill holes in eggs without damaging the membrane and causing a mess! The display perfectly demonstrated the message of the seminar - a direct example of man and machine working together to improve the safety of the practice of medicine. Both seminar and demonstration were well-attended, making the day a great success.