What do primary school mental health curriculum, public servants’ procurement workshops and national defence training have in common?

They have all been transformed by gamification. The technique introduces game elements to encourage participation and engagement, and is already being used to motivate higher fitness levels in Singapore’s National Steps Challenge.

It could go a step further to personalise treatments for patients, says Professor Dean Ho, Director at The N.1 Institute for Health (N.1) and the Institute for Digital Medicine (WisDM). He tells AI x GOV how AI could tailor interventions to match the needs of each patient.

Defining digital healthcare rules with gamification

At WisDM and N.1, Ho and his colleagues are turning to gamification as a winning strategy to tackle the pandemic and develop new therapies against related concerns such as antimicrobial resistance. They have also launched a major digital therapeutics effort where gaming platforms are paired with AI-based optimisation platforms to personalise interventions.

The team has integrated tablet-based digital intervention within their CURATE platform – a recent digital venture that monitors a patient’s individual response to treatment. This allows medical staff to adjust drug dosages along the course of treatment.

As AI-enabled technologies develop, Ho believes this is only the beginning of the journey.

“The emergence of AI will result in more digital technologies being developed from the biomedical engineering community”, he explains. “Hence, we are likely to see more [of] the use of AI to personalise the gamification experience, and how we use gamification to address biomedical engineering-related domains like rehabilitation, brain health, and beyond”.

Accessible and optimised personalised medicine

The end goal is taking accessible and optimised personalised medicine from concept to reality. A key example of AI optimisation is the ability to chart and compare patients’ unique healthcare data, against others’ – and their own – treatment journeys.

“It is important to note that patients are different from themselves over the course of treatment”, notes Ho, who is also , Head of the National University of Singapore’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. Through this integration of big data and small data, healthcare organisations can streamline strategies to deliver the best care to patients with reduced costs.

Predictions on an AI-enabled future

“AI is likely to redefine not only how we discover new medicines, but how these medicines are further developed, so that the process can be accelerated while the outcomes are optimised,” says Ho. This will shine a new spotlight on biomedical engineers as the “key problem solvers for the healthcare challenges of our generation and future generations”.

While healthcare’s post-pandemic recovery will be driven by new technologies, Ho is quick to stress that “with regards to AI implementation, we aren’t aiming to replace human expertise and skills”.

Instead, it is about making sure that manpower and resources can adapt at the pace of AI advancement, and that experts are savvy to the new challenges it raises. These range from data privacy and security, to bias and accessibility.

In order to truly integrate tech into healthcare, collaboration is key. WisDM is establishing partnerships with expert bodies to discuss how to translate research findings into healthcare practices, public health, and beyond.

These relationships have led to studies “that address the human side of technology implementation so that we can pre-emptively understand the challenges that may arise during the course of deployment”, Ho shares.

AI under ethical scrutiny

As the pace of digital acceleration picks up, it can be a challenge to keep humans at the heart of hyperconnected healthcare. Ho’s projects all undergo rigorous scrutiny from ethics and medical review boards that have clear and well-established policies. Protocols are reviewed by panels that are made up of medical personnel and other experts.

“Ethics and regulatory considerations will always remain a vital part of this process for all stakeholders, from tech developers to implementers and users”, he asserts.

Artificial intelligence needs to partner with real world smarts. WisDM and AI enabled information that will equip healthcare and biomedical professionals for the next stage of success.

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