Advancing Intelligent Health Care

In the not-too-distant future, health care in Ontario may dramatically transform for the better. Your doctor will be better able to identify your risk factors for certain diseases, which could help prevent you from getting sick. If you do fall ill, your condition will be diagnosed more precisely. The treatment you receive will be personalized to your biological makeup. And your doctor’s office will be offering these services in a timelier manner and with fewer errors.

These are among the many exciting possibilities that can arise when artificial intelligence (AI) is applied to health care. As Ontario’s only provincial research and education network, ORION already plays a key role in enabling health care facilities. Now, ORION is helping to realize the promise of AI in health care by partnering with Compute Ontario on an innovative project: the Health AI Data Analysis Platform (HAIDAP).

Richa Chaudhary, Corporate Project Manager, ICES

Collaborating under the CO-ORION proposal to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT), Compute Ontario, ORION, HPC4Health and ICES partnered in creating an environment that complies with the ministry’s privacy regulatory framework and satisfies the requirements of AI research. AI expertise was brought on with the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence located right in the heart of the discovery district at MaRS. What was needed to take the project further and facilitate efficient data sharing, processing and collaboration was ORION’s ultra-high-speed fibre optic network. To support this important next step, the provincial government invested to bring on board ORION’s digital infrastructure and services.

The main objective of HAIDAP is to create an advanced research computing environment in which AI and machine learning techniques can be used to analyze complex medical datasets and, ultimately, support evidence-based health-care policies and practices, thus creating a unique AI-ready, world-class data platform. Using sophisticated computer algorithms and software to better understand and manage electronic medical records has the potential to positively transform every aspect of health care: detection, diagnosis, treatment, patient outcomes, research and training. In short, AI could mean the end of hallway health care, long wait times and medical mistakes and the emergence of much more efficient, effective health services in Ontario.

“It’s about using data to make more informed decisions in health-care policy-making and to create more tailored health plans for patients,” says Richa Chaudhary, corporate project manager at ICES who oversees HAIDAP.

ICES is a non-profit research institute based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre that has been prescribed by the Ontario government, under the requirements of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), to collect and use health-related data to evaluate, monitor and help plan the provincial health system for the last 27 years. The institute has access to the province’s vast amount of health data, which includes population-based health surveys, patient records and clinical and administrative databases. Currently, ICES and Vector researchers working on several projects are leveraging the HAIDAP platform to apply machine and deep learning techniques to health data in a high-performance computing environment with high-speed network connections for faster data movement and processing.

A key enabler of HAIDAP is ORION’s 100 Gbps fibre optic network, which allows for fast, privately secured data movement and processing. ORION provides researchers with smooth, seamless access to the HAIDAP data platform so that they can apply and test machine and deep learning techniques.

“The 100 Gbps infrastructure means the ability to transfer a lot of data over a completely secure and encrypted network in a private way and in a shorter amount of time, and the high-speed connectivity creates a more seamless experience for researchers carrying out projects in HAIDAP,” Chaudhary says.

Fully launched in May 2019, HAIDAP helps usher in a new age of health care in Ontario that has the potential to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, support the best decisions of clinicians and administrators, and optimize the overall operations of hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices.