This November we profile Dr Harry Klimis as part of our feature on Westmead. Harry is part of the team responsible for winning the $1M for the Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) Impact Challenge.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
As I am both a full time PhD student and a consultant cardiologist, my week is a mixture of both research and clinical work. I spend 4 days a week at Westmead Hospital and 1 day seeing patients in private rooms. My commute to Westmead is an hour via train and I spend it reading the news, emails, and writing a to do list for the day.
I am currently recruiting for a text message-based cardiovascular disease prevention program, which targets individuals with moderate-high absolute risk. The program motivates, supports, and provides tips to improve lifestyle and heart disease risk factors ultimately to prevent the first heart attack. As such, my mornings are spent in a cardiology clinic recruiting patients who have come in with chest pain. I spend my afternoons analysing data for other studies, writing publications, and preparing for presentations.
The most exciting thing I am working on is creating a digital health intervention that utilises machine learning to personalise our existing text message platform, and in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s TechLab and Sydney Informatics Hub. This was following winning $1M for the Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) Impact challenge to use AI for cardiovascular disease prevention.
How do you define digital health?
My definition of digital health is the application of innovative technology to deliver healthcare disrupting the current model. This has the potential to transform health and redefine the doctor-patient relationship by improving resource efficiency, allowing the delivery of targeted interventions, and bridging access barriers (financial, physical, geographical, and cultural) to healthcare. Through this, I believe digital health will result in patients being highly engaged with their health plans and goals, ultimately improving health outcomes.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed?
Critical to the success of implementing digital health projects is not only securing funding but forming partnerships with key stakeholders to enable project delivery and scalability. Forming collaborations with other teams with similar interests is crucial to learn from the successes and failures of others.
Digital health is unique in that healthcare providers need to work synergistically with industry, research partners, and local health districts to ensure successful implementation of evidence-based digital medicine.
Have you come across any surprises or challenges along the way?
I think one of the main challenges is effective communication with stakeholders to ensure you ask the right question, that you’re understood, and thus that the right data is collected. Machine learning and AI is subject to bias – “rubbish in, rubbish out” – and so ensuring the collection of unbiased data is a big challenge for anyone working with AI and health.
What are some of the highlights of working at WARC?
By far the biggest highlight is working with a wonderful group of people with the same interests and goals as you. Everyone I work with is passionate about heart disease prevention and I find that a strong motivator when I come into the lab every day. People are very keen to hear what you are working on and the challenges you’re facing to help you find solutions together.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
The R Project for Statistical Computing: https://www.r-project.org/
Covidence to help write and manage systematic reviews: https://www.covidence.org/home
Digital health CRC: https://www.digitalhealthcrc.com/about-us/
Access to Australia’s public data: https://data.gov.au/
Using AI for social good: https://ai.google/education/social-good-guide/
A very big thank you to Harry for taking the time to be a feature in the November Westmead issue!