Unveiling the Boundless Potential of Artificial Intelligence at Frontiers Health

In this article, Luigi Pavia, who leads Ecosystem Engagement & Partnerships at Frontiers Health, delves into the perspectives and themes discussed across several editions to unveil the boundless potential of Artificial Intelligence.

With the final approval of the AI Act (March 13, 2024), Europe introduces the first comprehensive regulation on Artificial Intelligence by a major global regulator, aiming to provide organic regulation of the use of AI-based technologies. The Artificial Intelligence Regulation directly impacts businesses operating within the EU, whether they are providers, users, importers, distributors, or manufacturers of AI systems. The legislation provides clear definitions for the various actors involved in AI and holds them accountable for complying with the new rules. This means that all stakeholders must ensure that their AI-related practices adhere to the requirements outlined in the Regulation.

The implementation of an AI governance strategy should be the starting point. Furthermore, consideration should be given to implementing a framework of policies and processes aimed at ensuring that only compliant models are developed and brought to market.

The topic of artificial intelligence usage and its myriad complex implications has always been a key pillar throughout our conferences. Let’s explore together the perspectives and themes addressed across various editions.

Frontiers Health 2023

For us, it was crucial to commence FH23 with an inspiring keynote focused on AI Enhanced Care Pathways. Throughout this talk, our expert discussed the transformative role AI and machine learning (ML) can play in reshaping the healthcare landscape. We were guided through the various facets where AI and ML can make a significant impact, highlighting their capacity to revolutionize the care journey. From swiftly identifying patients and expediting the diagnostic process to measuring and optimizing clinical outcomes while simultaneously managing medical costs, the keynote explained that AI and ML offer unprecedented opportunities for advancement. Furthermore, we heard about how AI and ML can help surface barriers to treatment adherence and facilitate targeted interventions, thereby enhancing patient outcomes. This presentation laid the groundwork for a deeper exploration of AI’s role in healthcare and set the stage for further innovation and collaboration throughout the conference.

At FH23, the topic of Artificial Intelligence took center stage, prompting us to design a dedicated thematic session to it, covering various related segments. AI and machine learning are pioneering new realms of computer-human interaction in healthcare. Our objective was to provide our attendees with insights from industry leaders who have been at the forefront of AI long before it became the latest buzzword. Our discussions revolved around leveraging large language models and other models to facilitate more efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective digital solutions, particularly in critical areas such as drug discovery and mental health support. The session culminated in a panel featuring investors and payers, offering invaluable insights into their expectations from companies they consider investing in, particularly about their emphasis on AI.

We also dedicated ample space to discussing the role of Generative AI in Pharma. During a dedicated talk, our speaker underscored the opportunities for pharma with generative AI, focusing on accelerating content and personalizing interactions. Additionally, we explored the concept of “Pharmatizing” generative AI, trying to balance innovation and risk. The talk brought generative AI to life in pharma through compelling use cases, shedding light on its potential applications in the industry.

Our analysis continued with another captivating discussion focused on how pharma can attain a digital advantage. The primary objective of the panel was to explore the numerous ways in which pharmaceutical companies are leveraging digital technologies and AI to gain competitive advantages. Specifically, the panelists examined how companies expedite clinical trials and gather real-world evidence through remote monitoring, engaging patient support tools, and AI-enabled coaching.

Frontiers Health 2022

In our second conference edition in Milan, Italy, we focused on the significance of clinical data and patient identification, trying to analyze novel approaches and viewpoints. Aware that innovation in technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence, was spearheading the evolution of numerous sectors, we hosted an insightful discussion on tangible strategies for healthcare institutions to harness the power of AI. Our session curators explored how AI could be utilized to analyze both structured and unstructured data from disparate sources, aiding physicians in pinpointing potential candidates and identifying cohorts that meet specific criteria. This process is pivotal in unlocking the complete potential of clinical data.

In 2022, we introduced ‘FH Science,’ a dedicated track aimed at exploring the frontiers of science and medicine. As part of this initiative, we organized a fruitful discussion to delve into various aspects of digital methodologies in pharmaceutical discovery and development. Our panel of experts addressed topics such as optimizing the use of real-world data, harnessing patient-derived cells, comprehending pharmacological mechanisms, and placing particular emphasis on nervous system and immunological diseases through detailed discussions on digital and AI/ML technologies.

Artificial intelligence also impacts the evolving life sciences marketing scenario. Amidst the escalating digital expectations of patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) and the mounting cost pressures in healthcare accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, life science companies are confronted with the urgent need to reassess their existing development and commercialization frameworks. They must navigate the challenges of surging R&D expenses, diminished HCP accessibility, and declining patient engagement with their brands. In such a scenario, manufacturers must realign and implement new innovative development and commercialization strategies, integrating relevant, data-driven experiences throughout the entire patient and HCP journeys. At FH22 we facilitated a discussion to delineate the critical success factors for establishing a triumphant digital-first therapeutic model. Key elements include adaptable business architectures, robust data and artificial intelligence ecosystems, and seamlessly integrated care pathways designed to expedite time to therapy while enhancing operational efficiencies.

Frontiers Health 2021

As the AI landscape evolved, at FH21 we decided to reserve a specific track of our iconic Start-up Discovery to this topic. We shone a spotlight on cutting-edge startups that have harnessed the power of Artificial Intelligence across a spectrum of critical areas, including diagnostics, drug discovery, and clinical trials.

During the conference we also focused on the usage of AI in the mental health space. Recognizing the significance of fostering a productive alliance between therapist and patient has traditionally been pivotal for engagement and healing. However, with the escalating demand for mental health care and a dwindling supply of available clinicians, individuals are increasingly seeking assistance from technology-enabled solutions. Therefore, we invited on our stage a company offering an evidence-based, AI-powered digital companion, that provides personalized, in-the-moment support through chat-based conversations and techniques. It represented the world’s first relational agent designed to establish a bond with individuals akin to that of human therapists. This digital companion digitizes principles rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and draws insights from the methods clinicians employ during therapy sessions.

Frontiers Health 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the significance of incorporating digital health solutions into conventional healthcare systems. As we shape the healthcare systems of the future, it’s crucial to recognize that technology is just one component of the equation.

To elaborate this topic, we invited the co-founder and President of a patient intelligence company, who discussed the importance of empowering patients to make informed healthcare decisions through a blend of AI-driven insights and personalized human interaction. This approach aimed to enhance outcomes for patients, healthcare providers, and insurers alike.

At FH20, our Local Hub in Lausanne, Switzerland, curated a compelling debate about AI and clinical trials. The digital revolution in clinical trials held significant, yet largely untapped potential to revolutionize clinical research. Particularly considering the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted approximately 70% of ongoing clinical trials, elements of digital trials such as virtual clinical trials (VCT), in silico trials, Real-World Data (RWD) control arms, AI-enabled patient stratification, and related digital technologies have gained unprecedented importance. Digital trials are anticipated to reduce overall drug development costs, modernize data monitoring and management practices, and enhance patient engagement, including their participation in the quest for a coronavirus vaccine.

In this specific session, esteemed speakers delved into crucial aspects of digital trials, addressing key topics such as: the true potential of in silico trials; Real-World Data capacity to facilitate the transition of single-arm trials from the traditional placebo-controlled standard; how AI and machine learning are leveraged to unlock the potential of patient stratification and digital biomarkers in predictive care.

Given the vast array of AI technologies available, determining the optimal investment approach for AI-based implementations can be daunting. For this reason, we designed a conference session to examine various examples of AI implementations yielding promising outcomes. The discussion encompassed a range of AI topics including automation, computer vision, natural language processing, AI-driven predictions, and recommendations. Our speakers also dealt with specific methodologies for implementing AI and addressing common challenges that may arise. Additionally, a compelling case study involving a computer vision-based AI implementation was provided: the usage of AI in conjunction with 3D technology to develop an augmented reality (AR) experience aimed at fostering empathy among healthcare professionals (HCPs) for patients coping with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

Frontiers Health 2019

To illustrate the practical applications of AI in healthcare devices, we were delighted to welcome the founder of a pioneering startup dedicated to assisting individuals with diabetes in understanding and managing their condition.

This innovative system integrates sensors, a mobile application, and a Bluetooth glucose meter to comprehensively monitor various aspects of a diabetic individual’s health, encompassing blood glucose levels, dietary intake, physical activity, and medication adherence. Utilizing artificial intelligence, the system predicts the user’s blood glucose levels for the upcoming 24 hours and offers personalized recommendations to address fluctuations. The audience responded positively to this presentation, particularly appreciating the founder’s explanation that users have the option to communicate with a diabetes coach in real-time via text for immediate support.

Frontiers Health 2018

As AI capabilities continue to advance, the benefits of its application are not evenly distributed across various fields. The more critical the context, the greater the challenge in relying on AI, making it harder for it to maintain its usefulness.

This uneven distribution of benefits presents challenges in adopting AI capabilities within healthcare, particularly in areas like diagnostics. The complexity is heightened when AI is integrated into an autonomous Agent capable of acting independently.

At FH18 we organized a masterclass to present the solutions researchers were exploring to these challenges, basically through two complementary concepts: Human-Autonomy Teaming (HAT) and Explainable AI (XAI). That masterclass provided an introduction to these concepts and an overview of the progress that could be anticipated in the near future.

Artificial Intelligence has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of consumers’ daily lives, delivering information, reminders, recommendations, and shortcuts for a multitude of tasks, consider the massive usage of tools as Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Hey Google.

In the pharmaceutical context, AI applications typically fall within three key realms: Predictive Analytics (PA), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Within each domain, a plethora of use cases emerge, often intertwining to form holistic solutions. These use cases can be further segmented based on their target audience: those geared towards HCPs, those catering to patients/caregivers, and those serving internal pharma functions.

To address such topic, we proposed a deep dive on how AI brought comparable – if not superior – value to the healthcare and life sciences sectors, tailoring its functionalities to address the unique needs of healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients, caregivers, while adhering to stringent regulatory and clinical standards. We designed an immersive session that offered both theoretical insights into challenges and opportunities, and hands-on brainstorming to explore the vast array of potential applications of this innovative technology in clinical care, home-based support, promotional endeavors, and robust customer engagement.

Frontiers Health 2017

FH17 was a perfect stage to continue reflecting on such disruptive tool, represented by the artificial intelligence.

We agreed on approaching AI as an overarching term encompassing a spectrum of techniques aimed at enabling machines to execute tasks in a manner that mirrors human intelligence. The automation facilitated by AI holds immense promise for enhancing healthcare services and ultimately improving patient health by significantly augmenting human clinical capabilities across various domains such as diagnosis, drug discovery, epidemiology, personalized medicine, and operational efficiency.

However, for the integration of these AI solutions into clinical practice, three crucial aspects must be considered: the technical possibilities and limitations, the ethical, regulatory, and legal framework, and the governance framework. At FH17 we focused on the ethical considerations, that manifest across six levels of abstraction (individual, interpersonal, group, institutional, sectoral, and societal) and can be classified as epistemic, normative, or overarching. We hosted a highly inspiring keynote emphasizing the necessity of proactively addressing the ethical challenges posed by the implementation of AI in healthcare settings, underscoring the importance of preemptive action over reactive responses.

Frontiers Health 2016

Back in 2016, bots garnered significant attention from experts and media alike. With the accessibility of advanced AI engines and the prevalence of messaging as the primary mode of interaction, conversational UIs have swiftly ascended to the apex of Gartner’s Peak of inflated expectations. Some even asserted that bots will soon supplant traditional apps.

As is typical with any nascent technology, there exists both skepticism and euphoria: startups and established players alike were swiftly forging ahead, pioneering solutions and gearing up to usher in a new era of intelligence-driven solutions.

We hosted a masterclass for startups seeking a clear understanding of the landscape of intelligent bots, free from marketing biases. It offered an honest appraisal of the capabilities and limitations of current technology, as well as the pitfalls and design considerations to bear in mind. Additionally, it delved into compelling use cases and showcases successful ventures in healthcare.

During FH16, we delved into the transformative potential of exponential technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics within the healthcare sector. These technologies are revolutionizing healthcare, significantly augmenting the capabilities of both individuals and healthcare professionals. As a result, our health and society are undergoing profound transformations. We hosted an engaging discussion aimed at further elucidating these opportunities and identifying the challenges that must be navigated as we were embarking on this transformative journey.

In addition, in the framework of the Start-up Discovery, we hosted on stage a promising startup presenting a breakthrough technology that gives disabled people the power to control objects with their minds. This startup leverages Artificial Intelligence for Human-Machine interaction, allowing people affected by ALS, muscular dystrophies, stroke, or spinal cord injury to overcome communication and physical disabilities.

What to expect at FH24?

The theme of artificial intelligence has permeated all previous editions of the conference, showcasing its potential, partly already exploited, but much remains to be implemented and regulated. FH24 will dedicate ample space to these topics, through multiple formats, perspectives, and by involving the world’s leading thought leaders. We will create the right environment for discussions that inspire all participants and advance the future of health!


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