Farrer Park Hospital, a private tertiary acute care provider in Singapore, has adopted an artificial intelligence-enabled MRI screening tool for dementia.
WHAT IT DOES
The AI-supported MRI volumetry screening tool is used to quantify brain tissue volume in patients suspected of having dementia. According to Dr Santhosh Raj, a consultant neuroradiologist and neurointerventionalist at FPH, the technology provides additional disease-specific information to enhance dementia diagnosis.
From 21 September, the hospital will be offering its enhanced neuroimaging service using the AI MRI scan. Patients with dementia who have undergone an MRI scan within the year may be considered for the brain tissue volume quantification without undergoing a full scan.
The neuroimaging service adds general practitioners to the loop. They are provided with relevant resources to accurately assess patients’ cognitive health and advise better management plans.
FPH has also partnered with social service agency Dementia Singapore that will deliver psychosocial support, training and awareness activities for its referred patients and caregivers. The government agency’s dementia membership programme will provide patients with access to an ecosystem of solutions via a mobile app.
WHY IT MATTERS
In Singapore, one in 10 seniors aged 60 and above are living with dementia, according to the Ministry of Health. Around 82,000 people with dementia were recorded in 2018 and this number is expected to rise to 152,000 by 2030.
The present approach in the diagnosis of dementia involves combining various data from medical examinations, mental ability tests, laboratory results and brain scans. FPH noted that an MRI brain scan is the most common tool used to look into an individual’s brain, though it is not without limitations – often its use results in just scanning for strokes and brain tumours.
Moreover, Dr Raj said quantifying brain tissue volume in MRI scans helps assess the effectiveness of care plans and medication.
The use of AI in detecting early signs of dementia has been demonstrated in recent years. Canada-based Cognetivity Neurosciences incorporates AI and machine learning in its Integrated Cognitive Assessment software to detect dementia. In May, the company started collaborating with interoperability platform provider InterSystems to connect the ICA software with electronic health records.
ON THE RECORD
“Dementia affects patients in more ways than we think. Often, the diagnosis remains elusive in the early stages. Thus, enhancing the tools that we have brings us a step closer to making the right diagnosis. With an earlier diagnosis, one can institute earlier treatment, interventions and plan for the future. It will also help caregivers understand their patients better, thus improving the caregiver-patient relationship and reducing caregiver burnout,” said FPH CEO Dr Peng Chung Mien.