What challenges are there for eHealth? Interview with Eric Guiffard, new head of the Connected Medicine laboratory

On October 14 to 17, the Journées Francophones de Radiologie will be held. This event is a chance for us to ask the new head of the Connected Medicine laboratory at b<>com about trends in the field.

A graduate of the Ecole des Mines in Douai with 10 years' experience at a maker of ultrasound scanners, Eric Guiffard joined b<>com in September 2016.

The progress made by medical imaging and information technologies is opening up a new era in medical care. What challenges are currently facing connected medicine?

The distribution of digital technologies, both in their increasing computing power and by their diminishing size, makes it possible to create increasingly powerful devices, which are increasingly numerous but also increasingly distributed. At the same time, new usages are appearing, while practices are becoming more complex.

The widespread distribution of devices requires augmenting their "intelligence" so much they must be placed elsewhere, residing wholly or partially in the cloud. Furthermore, the increasing complexity of practices requires increasing their interoperability with other devices in the health care system (planning, management, diagnostics, therapy, procedure, etc.). The main challenge of connected medicine today is to successfully get all of these devices working together for different usages while ensuring optimal quality of care for the patient.

How might we imagine connected medicine in 10 years?

A powerful wave of tools and resources is expected to arrive, and lead to a "deconstruction" of medical practice into two disciplines, which rely on the increased connectivity of medical devices.

First, telemedicine. The expert will be able to support a tricky procedure even while thousands of miles away. Furthermore, a patient may be equipped with communicating devices connected to a hospital in order to ensure he/she is being monitored and allow him/her to lead a "normal" life.

Furthermore, with respect to smart medicine, it is possible to conceive that doctors could conduct exams using "smart" instruments that will be able to guide their own user. Those users [doctors? instruments?? -translator] will themselves have access to data banks and artificial intelligence, locally or remotely. Increasingly intelligent systems will have the ability to connect together and carry out a complex function that they would not be able to do on their own, which would either be designed by the "expert" user or "learned" by the device.

What research projects are underway at b<>com?
The Connected Medicine laboratory that I lead is conducting experiments under actual conditions regarding innovative technologies for distributed medical imaging info-structures. Among other things, this entails producing concrete applications that use fundamental knowledge to leverage clinical data for research. The findings of the research might benefit patients, such as by helping them choose the right medication based on changes in pathology measured in the image. We are also beginning an ambitious study of how to make video interoperable in the surgical operating room, which is far from where we currently are.