Using tech and AI to improve health outcomes

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Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and chronic kidney disease are common in the UK — around 5.5 million adults in England have undiagnosed high blood pressure. These diseases are much easier to manage when detected early, as this enables individuals to make informed lifestyle choices which can help to slow down and even, in some cases, prevent their progression.

The reality, though, is that many people don’t find out that they’re living with these conditions until the time for early and straightforward interventions has passed. These conditions often don’t have symptoms until the issues have progressed; and so diagnosis relies on indicators being picked up by general practitioners, pharmacists or other health care professionals. That’s why Google Health is teaming up with the University of Sheffield to study whether smartphone sensors could help to tackle this issue.

The PUMAS Trial: An experiment with smartphone sensors

The sensors on smartphones can detect a range of different mechanical and electrical signals from the heart, and use AI to facilitate early detection of some common conditions.

Google Health and the University of Sheffield will pilot a feasibility study called PUMAS — Phones for Undetected Diabetes Mellitus And Hypertension Screening. This first-of-its-kind research will assess whether, in the future, these signals could provide a reliable, non-invasive alternative to current screening methods, facilitating early disease detection and free up valuable NHS resource. The opportunity here is huge: Optimal treatment for everyone known to have high blood pressure could avert up to 9,710 heart attacks and 14,500 strokes, saving the NHS up to £274 million.

PUMAS is the first of a series of studies set to take place in the South Yorkshire region that explore the role digital tools could play in improving patient health. We’ll also provide 500 Fitbit devices for a separate study on post-surgical rehabilitation. These experiments are part of a digital health partnership where we’ll invest in medical research, apprenticeships and digital skills training to uncover innovative ways that technology can drive change throughout the region and beyond.

Our investment in the South Yorkshire Digital Healthcare Hub

We’re also working with the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, a group of private and public sector organisations in the region, including: The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA). This partnership is a powerful example of the technology, academic and healthcare sectors coming together to drive the development of innovative digital technologies to improve the way diseases are diagnosed and treated.

We believe technology can transform the nation’s health — but we need experts to support that effort. So, we’re also working with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to fund 500 Google Career Certificate scholarships. These qualifications will equip individuals and groups working or aspiring to work in digital health across the region with job-ready, entry-level qualifications in subjects such as cybersecurity, data analytics, project management, user experience and IT support.

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The first lady of ChromeGeek.com - In charge of writing Chrome OS tutorials, finding the best Chrome themes and wallpapers. I currently stay in Houston Texas studying marketing and aiming for a law degree.