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Software program that automatically detects major diseases awarded funding

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Software program that automatically detects major diseases awarded funding

​Clinical experts at Western Health and the University of Melbourne have collaborated to develop a software program that aims to enable automatic discovery of undetected major chronic diseases in patients.

The program, created by the Future Health Today partnership between the two organisations, has been dubbed ‘artificial intelligence for GPs’.

It will soon commence a pilot testing phase after receiving $274,600 in seed funding from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund. The funding will also go towards a GP fellowship for Dr Karyn Alexander of Altona North Medical.

Over 11 million Australians have at least one major chronic disease such as kidney disease, heart disease or diabetes, which account for more than a third of all potentially preventable hospital admissions. It is estimated that less than 1 in 10 people who have signs of chronic kidney disease actually know it.

The new trial software integrates decision-support and pathways of care into a GP's everyday workflow, and is being developed to include other chronic diseases in the future. It will allow at-risk patients the opportunity to address their risk sooner so that conditions can be managed earlier, leading to improved health outcomes.

Future Health Today follows directly on from the CD IMPACT (Chronic Disease early detection and Improved Management in Primary Care) project where trial software used to identify potential cases of chronic disease in patient files has already been rolled out to 19 GP clinics across Victoria.

Western Health Chronic Disease Alliance project lead A/Prof Craig Nelson has welcomed the funding allocation for Future Health Today, and says it is hoped to develop the program to allow for an eventual nationwide rollout.

“We’ve worked on two previous projects, one focusing purely on kidney disease and another project focusing on multimorbidities including kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease, and within those projects we were able to find a 300% improvement in detecting kidney disease and management of kidney disease” said A/Prof Nelson, who is also Director of Nephrology at Western Health.

“We want to make sure that we’re creating a tool that both works for patients, and also that GPs can implement as part of their day-to-day practice,” said Future Health Today Senior Co-Investigator Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne.