Wendy Davis is a patient consultant who started collaborating with EHN in 2022 on the EU-funded Horizon Europe project, AIDAVA (“AI-powered Data Curation and Publishing Virtual Assistant”). After experiencing heart failure and undergoing open heart surgery at a young age, Wendy realized the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (Al) in cardiovascular care and started advocating for patient empowerment in this field.
EHN connected Wendy with MedTech Europe for the Potential of AI in Healthcare blog series, for which she was interviewed for in the latest blog, “Artificial Intelligence in heart care is as much about the small as it is about the grand things”. Wendy explains how her physical and mental health improved thanks to the use of Al in cardiovascular medicine, and as the field evolves, she emphasizes the need for greater patient involvement at all stages of development.
The first heart failure
At 28 years of age, Wendy was perfectly healthy and went running on a regular basis when she started experiencing multiple heart failures, which she first misunderstood as fainting. After receiving medical treatment and identifying the cause, Wendy was fitted with a pacemaker. After 5 years, she had another heart failure and fainted at home; luckily, her 8-year-old son was home who bravely called an ambulance and saved his mother’s life. At the hospital, she was told that one of the pacemaker’s pacing wires had moved, and consequently she had to undergo open heart surgery to have the wires adjusted and a mechanical heart valve fitted.
Thanks to Al, Wendy was able to improve her life and avoid surgery
Last year she started experiencing similar issues, but her doctors were able to avoid surgery thanks to a non-obtrusive bio patch, which was put in communication with her pacemaker using Bluetooth technology and was able to identify issues with her heart pattern. In the MedTech blog, Wendy asserts that not only this adjustment meant that she did not need to go through surgery again, but also that it contributed greatly to her quality of life. She was also provided with a cardiac monitoring tool, which thanks to Al, monitors her heartbeat and sends vital information to hospital doctors in real time.
Advocating for other patients’ journey: Wendy’s involvement in AIDAVA
Through her journey, Wendy realized the need to fully grasp and exploit the transformative power of Al, and that health data availability can really improve the patient’s journey. This requires the need to personalise the patient journey: to know more about patients and to differentiate among various types of patients. Therefore, Wendy started collaborating with EHN as a patient consultant on the AIDAVA project. AIDAVA aims to enable patients to actively participate in the control and management of their personal health data by developing an “automatic health data cleaning machine” using AI tools. In February, Wendy met with consortium partners in Brussels for a workshop on user requirements and will continue to share her experiences and expertise over the course of the 4-year project.
The future of Al in health space
Despite the significant progress of Al in healthcare in the last years, the discipline still has lingering shortcomings to address: the accessibility of clinical trials for patients, the anonymization of patients’ data, a regulatory framework for data management that follows the FAIR principles, and more meaningful patient and public involvement in AI development. Ultimately, a stronger European policy framework on Al is an essential cornerstone to be achieved.
Click here to learn more about the value of digital tools for cardiovascular patients, and the potential of Big Data and AI.