1. When hearing about the use of artificial intelligence in medicine, most people imagine other fields besides the treatment of infertility. Where did the idea of dealing with this aspect come from?
Urszula Sankowska, COO MIM Solutions: It’s true. Artificial intelligence in medicine can now be associated with other areas of health, although it seems to me that this is due to the fact that the problem of infertility is less publicized in Poland. Around the world, it is being talked about more and more loudly, because the percentage of people constantly or periodically affected by the problem of infertility is constantly growing, and today the number of couples struggling with this disease reaches 300 million. in the world. It is very disturbing. It is also worth mentioning that the World Health Organization has included infertility in the list of diseases of civilization. The problem is serious. This is one of the reasons why we have decided to act in this area.
At this point, someone might say – okay, but there is already a solution for these people, such as in vitro fertilization (also called IVF). I have to write here that despite the fact that the effectiveness of IVF has increased significantly in recent years, this procedure is still only about 30% effective, it is expensive and can be a mental and physical burden for patients . This is proof that there are still many challenges and limitations to overcome. It is in many of these challenges that we are trying to help physicians with artificial intelligence (AI). We believe that AI-based systems can increase the chances of success, reduce errors, and lead to faster, cheaper, and more accessible healing processes.
I have to admit that the idea also came from a personal experience. For many years I was a patient in IVF clinics, my road to motherhood was long and winding. I know what patients are going through and I know the handicaps of treatment. I want to help women realize their dreams of having a long-desired child. If we succeed in revolutionizing the treatment of infertility, I can honestly say that my lifelong dream has come true.
2. How can the solutions put in place by MIM Solutions help couples who are trying to conceive? And can they really help doctors?
WE: First of all, we want to increase the efficiency of the in vitro method and lead to a reduction in treatment costs. We are currently working on three technologies that promise to achieve these goals.
The first technology is EMBRYOAID – an app that will help even the most experienced embryologist choose the most promising embryo for implantation. Choosing the right embryo to administer to a woman is extremely important as it increases the chances of success, minimizes complications and keeps the baby healthy. The challenge here is the general lack of objective methods for the accurate assessment of embryo quality, or – more specifically – the lack of predictive systems which, based on information about the development of the embryo, can predict its chances of survival. implantation. The tools currently available to support this decision are limited, highly subjective, generally time consuming and often very expensive. Therefore, embryologists often rely on their experience and observational skills to select embryos for implantation. In particular, the absence of objective indicators can lead to high variability in the process itself. An artificial intelligence (AI) system that contains such indicators and helps doctors make decisions could therefore improve IVF success rates. Our EMBRYOAID system learns how embryos develop over time and then uses this information to identify the best embryos to implant. By understanding the entire development process, the system is able to identify suitable embryos, even based on a single image. It is a cheaper alternative to current analytical tools that are only available at the more expensive IVF clinics. We believe that EMBRYOAID will allow clinicians to choose the best embryo, thereby reducing the number of IVF cycles needed to achieve a successful pregnancy, improving the success rate and minimizing the risk of multiple pregnancies.
The next system we are creating is called FOLLISCAN (from the English word follicles and scanning) – this is a software designed to help the doctor in the ultrasound examination (USG) of the woman’s ovarian reserve. It is a key test because it helps determine a woman’s fertility in a given cycle. This test is performed several times during the IVF process itself and allows you to determine the timing of its individual stages. Thanks to FOLLISCAN, the gynecologist and the medical staff will have access to highly specialized medical knowledge, hitherto reserved mainly for a restricted group of specialists. In addition, FOLLISCAN will automate many of the activities that currently need to be performed by a human. This will greatly facilitate diagnosis in terms of assessment of ovarian reserve and development of antral follicles. We believe that FOLLISCAN will improve the diagnosis of female fertility, and thus contribute to the use of treatments better adapted to the patient’s needs and increase their effectiveness.
Another project in which we are involved is to create a system that will support the doctor in the process of making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. In collaboration with the INVICTA clinic, we are working on a solution that will tell the doctor which clinical treatment will be the most optimal for a given patient in the process of treating fertility disorders. Advanced machine learning algorithms will analyze hundreds of thousands of patient histories to create the most efficient and cost-effective diagnostic and treatment pathways. The SI platform we are building will base its suggestions on dozens of parameters, individually assessing each person’s situation. Thanks to this, the treatment will become more personalized and therefore more effective. This software will also facilitate the daily work of the dentist. One of its elements is the appropriate presentation of the patient’s treatment history in order to first allow the doctor to familiarize himself with the most important information at a given stage of the diagnostic and treatment process. In addition, the platform will tell the doctor what other important medical parameters to check in order to properly assess the patient’s situation.
4. What is the extent of availability of your solutions? Is there a chance that in the next few years really all couples in Poland will be able to enjoy it?
WE: We want as many couples as possible to use our technologies in Poland and around the world. Therefore, MIM Solutions plans to go a long way with regard to the commercialization of the developed technologies. The first line target markets are Poland and Europe. Unfortunately, the problem of infertility is getting worse every year and technologies such as EMBRYOAID and FOLLISCAN meet the needs of the market today, and will be further developed and improved in the future to meet the demand for this type of product. . There seems to be no turning back from the use of AI in medicine and this trend will only intensify. Thanks to EMBRYOAID and FOLLISCAN, we want to become pioneers in the field of the treatment of fertility disorders. Currently, there are still very few companies in the world that deal with similar topics, although we know this trend will change quickly.
5. On your website, you can read that in terms of MedTech, you carry out projects not only in the field of infertility treatment. In what other areas do you plan to implement AI solutions?
WE: MedTech is actually a bottomless pit when it comes to AI applications. Recently, we carried out a project in cooperation with TelDoc, aiming to develop a system allowing the automatic generation of summaries based on electronic medical records and a medical interview carried out using a voice robot using models based on networks deep neurons. Initially, the system will be dedicated to three specialties, such as general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics and traumatology of the musculoskeletal system.
6. If you had to name three main areas where artificial intelligence in medicine will develop the most in the coming years. What would that be?
WE: The development of AI applications in medicine will likely largely depend on the availability of model-driven data. There are very different levels of access to medical data around the world. It seems to me that AI-based solutions will grow the most where there will be the greatest availability of huge datasets – and those areas are currently remote diagnostics.
However, I wouldn’t expect smart technologies to completely replace doctors. As the history of medicine shows, new techniques allow doctors to focus on even more advanced aspects of our health and lead to even greater specialization. And this process alone will lead to more effective treatment of even more diseases.