AI Health’s diabetes study comes to Guam

GRMC, SelectCare, AMC join forces with diabetes experts on artificial intelligence-driven research on diabetes in Guam
Posted on Sep 23 2021


Francisco J. Pasquel

HAGÅTÑA, Guam—Guam Regional Medical Center, American Medical Center, and Calvo’s SelectCare have joined forces with AI Health to launch a research partnership to bring cutting-edge artificial intelligence medical research to the island of Guam.

The planned study announced yesterday will focus on aggregating healthcare data from different sources and applying AI to identify critical risk factors and provide insights into treating patients with diabetes.

Leading the study will be some of the world’s top medical experts in diabetes, healthcare and technology—specifically around artificial intelligence and wearable technology. The AI Health advisory board includes Dr. David C. Klonoff (a pioneer in diabetes technology); and Dr. Francisco J. Pasquel (an expert in optimizing care with diabetes technology).

Diabetes continues to be a major public health problem that disproportionately impacts individuals of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander descent. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of diabetes in Guam is higher than in most parts of the United States, and among adults of Chamorro heritage is 18.9%—nearly one in six.

Guam is an ideal place to study diabetes using AI. “Guam is uniquely positioned to create meaningful impact around the study globally, and most importantly, allow us to leave a positive legacy of making an impact in the community for those who suffer with diabetes,” said Klonoff. “Guam not only provides us with a very sizable representative sample for our study, but also gives us ethnic diversity, presence of most chronic diseases, and a sophisticated medical community. The island is also small enough so that we can conduct a controlled and efficient study, where we are able to directly engage many of the key stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.”

By partnering with hospitals, insurance providers, primary care providers, patients, and labs on Guam, AI Health looks to bring together critical information from all these sources into its artificial intelligence platform. Once aggregated, the team will apply several AI techniques to stratify patients, predict disease progression, and discover personalized opportunities for early intervention to improve patient outcomes.

David C. Klonoff

GRMC will serve as the internal review board for the study. “GRMC is excited to contribute to this fascinating research partnership which we are hopeful might bring the dawn of a new era in the care of people living with diabetes, not only on Guam but throughout the whole world,” said GRMC chief medical officer Dr. Alexander Wielaard.

GMRC will be joined by Dr. Erika Alford, who will serve as the local principal investigator of the study. Alford is an endocrinologist with American Medical Center, and brings 10 years of experience caring for patients with diabetes in Guam and her deep understanding of the nuances of diabetes care on the island—“With diabetes technology becoming more available in Guam, including continuous glucose monitoring systems and insulin pumps, patients are seeing improvement in their diabetes management. Using AI techniques will give us more tools to improve outcomes.”

“The prevalence of diabetes in Guam is extremely high. Every day, we care for numerous patients not only with diabetes, but also with complications associated with diabetes, including chronic kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, peripheral artery disease, heart disease, and strokes. Improving diabetes care is a crucial step towards preventing these long-term complications associated with diabetes,” said Dr. Hoa V. Nguyen, founding member of AMC. “We are thrilled by this exciting opportunity to partner with AI Health, GRMC, and Calvo’s SelectCare in the use of innovative technology to improve the health of our island.”

Calvo’s SelectCare will be providing historical claims data to assist with the study, as well as recruiting participants for the prospective section of the validation study in 2022.

Frank J. Campillo, health plan administrator for Calvo’s SelectCare, said, “This diabetes study will be groundbreaking for our resident population, as it may help the future medical management and coordination of care for the diabetic population. As part of our quality initiatives, we continue supporting innovative and more effective methods of care for our members, and this study can provide results that directly impact their overall health and well-being. We embrace this new frontier in medical research, led by world-renowned diabetes experts Dr. Klonoff, Dr. Pasquel, and the AI Health team, which will originate here [in] Guam under the direction of Dr. Alford. We are confident that the important data collected through this study will provide our medical community with valuable insights to potentially improve the quality of care for diabetic patients locally and around the world.”

“Today we benefit from advanced AI analytics in many areas of our lives, including online shopping, autonomous transportation, voice recognition, and entertainment choices. Why shouldn’t we be able to do the same in healthcare, especially for someone with a chronic illness to help them stay healthy?” said Klonoff. “We hope that by partnering here [in] Guam with GRMC, AMC, Calvo’s SelectCare, and Dr. Alford, we will be able to showcase the power of assembling this data on behalf of patient care.” (PR)

Press Release
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