Imagia: Collaborating on AI-powered healthcare discovery

About Imagia

Imagia equips those without machine learning backgrounds to predict patient outcomes and detect disease-specific markers from imaging data, while adhering to strict regulatory constraints on protected health information.

Industries: Life Sciences
Location: Canada

To provide greater access to personalized care, Imagia uses Google Cloud Platform to support its collaborative, knowledge-based ecosystem that pairs artificial intelligence with clinical expertise.

Google Cloud Results

  • Helps improve time to discovery for researchers by running tests on Google Cloud Platform
  • Drives artificial intelligence innovation via Google machine learning development resources
  • Improves AI training results and understanding through Cloud Datalab and TensorBoard

Reduces test processing time from 16 hours to 1 hour

Imagia yields new diagnostic possibilities by allowing clinicians to better understand and visualize conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, a progressive disease that affects memory, thinking, and behavior in nearly 50 million people worldwide.

Alzheimer's worsens over time and with no current cure, early detection of its symptoms before irreversible damage occurs is an important area of research. This is currently done by measuring brain plaque via PET scans, which can be limited, time consuming, and expensive. As the retina is considered to be a window into the brain's vasculature, there is a current drive to discover retinal-based biomarkers to improve Alzheimer's diagnosis.

"The processing power on Google Cloud Platform is beyond anything we could have on-prem. Google is the best place to run large experiments for performance and cost effectiveness."

Kam Kafi, M.D., Director of Clinical Strategy and Oncology, Imagia

Imagia's AI detects disease via retinal analysis powered by Google Cloud Platform (GCP), combined with scanning power from Optina Diagnostics. By combining GCP solutions with data-rich imaging from Optina and deep learning architectures from Imagia, the potential for discovery of novel biomarkers for early-stage, low-cost, and non-invasive diagnostics of Alzheimer's disease has been significantly accelerated.

"The processing power on Google Cloud Platform is beyond anything we could have on-prem," says Kam Kafi, M.D., Director of Clinical Strategy and Oncology at Imagia. "Google is the best place to run large experiments for performance and cost effectiveness."

Reimagining patient care by uniting expertise

Imagia leverages several GCP services to power its data collection and artificial-intelligence-driven discovery processes. For retinal scans, scans will be sent to a cloud server to be analyzed by proprietary AI solutions that identify whether amyloid plaque deposits are present for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. These solutions augment physicians by quickly connecting different clinical data sources and deepening medical research resources, which helps improve patient outcome predictions.

In order to more securely upload images that the AI biomarker for Alzheimer's diagnosis will run on, Imagia uses multiple GCP solutions to provide ease of use and optimal performance for clinicians and researchers. By leveraging Google Kubernetes Engine and Compute Engine for their ability to scale up services and resources on demand, in addition to Cloud IAM for its fine-grained access management solution and built-in auditing, Imagia clients such as Optina can push data and receive AI results seamlessly. For example, 1,000-patient detection experiments that take nearly 16 hours on legacy hardware finish in less than 1 hour on GCP.

Imagia's researchers are developing solutions that leverage Cloud Machine Learning Engine and Cloud AutoML to train multiple AI models and effortlessly run large ensemble learning methods to discover markers for conditions such as chronic and age-related degenerative diseases for preventative assessment.

Using Cloud Datalab, clinical data can be explored and experimental results visualized to provide the clinicians with valuable insights. Especially when coupled with TensorBoard, which provides additional visibility into AI methodology and triggers, Imagia has a collaborative environment that benefits engineering and medical efforts, helping improve management of patient care.

"We founded Imagia to unleash the full potential of AI to reveal actionable links across disconnected data produced during the patient care continuum," says Alex Le Bouthillier, Ph.D., Co-founder and COO at Imagia. "Whether it's encouraging faster diagnoses or providing quicker predictions, we rely on Google Cloud Platform to enable innovation."

Maintaining patient data security

When Imagia works with protected health information, challenges posed by security and regulation-based concerns are handled in a principled manner, which keeps patient data accurate, safe, highly secure, and in compliance. In terms of regulations and security requirements, the United States provides a prime example, as its law dictates that medical data under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) be de-identified to maintain privacy of its source. By extension, Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) was created to increase the adoption of electronic health records while further protecting that data.

"Protecting patient health information is pivotal to working with patient data and it's subject to many necessary restrictions. Google enables us to be compliant with industry security standards, helping ensure that patient privacy and consent is respected throughout the entire AI process."

Kam Kafi, M.D., Director of Clinical Strategy and Oncology, Imagia

By leveraging GCP to create an AI-first scalable and highly secure infrastructure, Imagia solves critical privacy issues impeding most health data-related innovations. GCP enables Imagia to facilitate AI biomarker discovery for its startup partners in a simple, more secure, and cost-effective fashion, allowing for transfers and storage of as well as access to healthcare data in a HITECH-compliant environment.

Once uploaded to the cloud, results are received while complying with different international regulatory constraints regarding patient data privacy, as well as rights to erase, access, and enable disclosure tracking opportunities. Improved patient care and the diagnosis of disease are important, achievable goals, but they are goals tantamount to the protections of patient data. The two go hand in hand.

"Protecting patient health information is pivotal to working with patient data and it's subject to many necessary restrictions," says Kam. "Google enables us to be compliant with industry security standards, helping ensure that patient privacy and consent is respected throughout the entire AI process."

"Imagia leverages Google solutions to complement its Evidens network with scalable engineering. It's providing a high level of security, compliance, and computing power on the cloud, allowing clinicians to do AI research on their own data and collaborate in ways that were not possible before."

Florent Chandelier, CTO, Imagia

Improving the future of diagnosis

The potential for Imagia and its work in healthcare and patient care improvement can extend far beyond the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and the future of AI-driven results is promising. As the discovery and adoption of new AI solutions in health and life sciences is accelerated, new discoveries are possible. The eye is a window into other applications of preventative health, such as AI biomarkers for chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders in retinal scans.

This holds a lot of promise for creating a reimagined, worldwide consortium of leading institutions working together to unlock the potential of healthcare data, but it isn't without challenges. Healthcare data has historically existed in silos. Medical specialists -- including oncologists, pathologists, and surgeons -- do their best to communicate their insights and discoveries through today's conventional means. However, those conventional means can stifle the potential for growth and development. By converging data and clinical knowledge from varied sources at an international scale with help from GCP, Imagia supports the hope for the unification and acceleration of groundbreaking technologies.

"Imagia leverages Google solutions to complement its Evidens network with scalable engineering," says Florent Chandelier, CTO at Imagia. "It's providing a high level of security, compliance, and computing power on the cloud, allowing clinicians to do AI research on their own data and collaborate in ways that were not possible before."

About Imagia

Imagia equips those without machine learning backgrounds to predict patient outcomes and detect disease-specific markers from imaging data, while adhering to strict regulatory constraints on protected health information.

Industries: Life Sciences
Location: Canada
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