Innovation + Partnering

Can AI improve cardiovascular disease outcomes?

By Sebastian Guth

Sebastian GuthSebastian Guth
Member of Bayer’s Pharmaceutical Executive Committee
President of Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region

At the heart of what Bayer strives for is bringing the right medicine to the right patient at the right time. We are continuously looking to accomplish this goal more efficiently and faster than we do today. Artificial intelligence will help drive unprecedented productivity improvements and better outcomes across the value chain from drug discovery to delivery. And perhaps nowhere is the gain more important to realize than in cardiovascular disease, which is still the world’s #1 cause of death.

It’s unfortunate that as a society we’ve developed too much of a blasé attitude towards the burden of cardiovascular disease. We rely on humans for diagnosis and, sadly, misdiagnoses are not rare. Patients show up everywhere across the diagnostic spectrum and deal with clinicians who have a range of different experience levels. Add to the mix the fact that clinical trials are costly and take a long time; I consider the need for new approaches and technologies becoming even more critical.

Making Physicians Smarter

The reality is that our industry, right now, is at a key inflection point. The real promise of AI is that it’s going to take physicians and scientists out of an analogue age and make them smarter. The technology is about supporting, enhancing, and assisting human judgment. And we are on the cusp of realizing its full potential.

I’m particularly excited about the prospect of AI to improve patient outcomes by supporting clinical decision making. Just one example is what we’re doing, in partnership with Merck, in a rare form of pulmonary hypertension called CTEPH (or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension).

CTEPH affects about five million people worldwide and can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Development of the CTEPH Pattern Recognition AI Software will use deep learning methodology to support radiologists by identifying signs of CTEPH in imaging scans and ultimately help drive an earlier diagnosis to improve patient outcomes. The software analyzes image findings from cardiac, lung perfusion and pulmonary vessels in combination with the patient's clinical history.

So the real promise of AI is in this quest to get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time more efficiently and much faster than we do today . Now is the time that we as an industry, as regulators, and clinicians need to step up and truly embrace the opportunity to change the course of cardiovascular disease for good.