Fujitsu, Tohoku University embark on strategic alliance to realize ‘Well-being Society’

TOKYO, Sep 26, 2022 – (JCN Newswire via – Fujitsu Limited and Tohoku University today announced the start of a strategic alliance to accelerate the shift towards preventive healthcare and the realization of a ‘Well-being Society’ in which no one will be left behind.

Within their joint project, the two parties will cooperate on the development of new technologies including digital twins(1) in healthcare to visualize simulations of the prevention and treatment of diseases and an AI technology to predict the onset and severity of diseases based on healthcare data such as EMRs(2) and PHRs(3).

Researchers at Tohoku University Hospital will cooperate with business experts and combine its outstanding knowledge of advanced medical care, research results from its Academic Science Unit (ASU)(4) and its Open Bed Lab (OBL)(5) with Fujitsu’s cutting-edge technologies, R&D capabilities and healthcare infrastructure environment and business know-how including Japan’s top share electronic medical record system provided by Fujitsu Japan(6).

Tohoku University and Fujitsu aim to promote initiatives that allow individuals to work towards their own personal health image and to contribute to the realization of a framework where a variety of medical services are provided in an organized way throughout the whole community in order to contribute to the early detection and prevention of frailty spirals(7), a syndrome in which health conditions deteriorate due to a negative cycle caused by a variety of causes such as a lack of physical exercise and malnutrition.

This initiative will be demonstrated at the Fujitsu ActivateNow 2022 special session which will be held online by Fujitsu on Tuesday, October 4 (15:35 to 16:35 JST, held in Japanese).

Outline of the joint research

1. Development of digital twin technology to optimize decisions and processes
As part of their joint research, Tohoku University and Fujitsu will develop digital twin technology to be applied in the following areas:

(a) Digital twins to support optimal provision of health services to patients
– creation of digital twins (virtual images) of patients based on patient medical data and information obtained from diverse test instruments and wearable devices.
– various real-time data will be collected and added to the digital twin on a daily basis to support doctors in accurately and quickly capturing patients’ symptoms, make decisions about the best treatment, drug regimens, and surgical procedures for each patient.

(b) Digital twins to support hospital management
– integration of hospital staff personnel information, work information, financial information, and the operating status of medical devices (in addition to medical data accumulated in the electronic medical record system) to enable a real-time monitoring of the operating status of hospital beds and future simulations, support the optimization of daily operations and resources of the hospital and improve the utilization of operation rooms and other medical facilities.

(c) Digital twins to support health promotion and disease prevention of local residents
– development of digital twin technology to predict and visualize future health conditions based on medical history, health examination results and daily life habits and provide information to local residents to enable everybody to live a healthy lifestyle in a world of extended life spans.
– utilization of digital twins in cooperation with local governments and health insurance organizations to encourage local residents to change their behavior towards health promotion and disease prevention and support of the development of systems that contribute to the reduction of national medical expenses.

2. Development of AI model to detect possible diseases

Tohoku University and Fujitsu will develop an AI model able to detect even small anomalies that can be indicators for diseases from medical data in order to realize efficient diagnosis support in the medical field. The two parties will apply this AI model to health care data including individual patients’ daily diet and exercise data to inform patients about changes in their health conditions and encourage early health examinations at medical institutions.

In developing this AI model, Tohoku University and Fujitsu will leverage medical data accumulated by the Tohoku University Hospital since the start of the predecessor of the electronic medical record system in 1990, advice provided by the hospital’s advanced specialists and business liaison personnel utilizing design thinking to identify needs and create new businesses, as well as Fujitsu’s AI technology.

3. Development of infrastructure and data analytics method for practical data utilization

In addition to the development of a new data base for analyzing large amounts of medical data and health examination information that exist in various data formats as well as personal daily lifelogs, the two parties will further develop a new data analysis method for solving social issues by structuring accumulated data into a data format that can be analyzed.

By making the established data base available to various healthcare-related companies such as pharmaceutical and insurance companies, Tohoku University and Fujitsu further aim to develop a data circulation type ecosystem that contributes to the creation of new medical services and products and can be used to pass on knowledge gained from these processes to hospitals and individuals.

Proactive human resource exchanges and mutual use of R&D facilities to develop new medical services

To realize application of the newly developed technologies in real world scenarios, the two parties will promote personnel transfer between Tohoku University and Fujitsu, mutual use of research and development facilities as well as field studies by interns from Tohoku University. Tohoku University and Fujitsu will further promote active usage of Tohoku University Hospital’s ASU to contribute to the development of new medical services based on design thinking.

In this way, Fujitsu and Tohoku University aim to create human-centered experiences (experience design) based on diversified individual values that differ from conventional manufacturing approaches that focus on technological improvement and increased performance.
The two parties will further nurture next-generation data scientists, AI engineers, and other next-generation human resources with medical knowledge and digital technology skills to realize new innovations in the healthcare field.

Future Plans

In order to realize its “Tohoku University Vision 2030(8)” in an ever changing world, Tohoku University will realize a virtuous cycle of “education,” “research,” and “co-creation with society” at a higher level by innovating university management, such as improving productivity through innovation and reforms to create diverse work styles, based on its traditional principles and outstanding education and research. As a university that works together with society, Tohoku University will create new social value and lead reforms that open the way for the future.

Fujitsu will work with universities and other educational and research institutions as well as medical institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers to build a digital health ecosystem in which a wide range of data can be effectively linked and used with the latest digital technology to enable the provision of personalized healthcare throughout the entire life cycle. This project will play a role in its vision for Healthy Living, a Key Focus Area under the Fujitsu Uvance portfolio of global solutions to realize a sustainable future. Fujitsu will utilize the results of this joint research in the development of new solution services and platforms that help to realize a “Well-being Society,” with the aim of providing new value to customers from a wide range of areas, including medical institutions, local governments, insurance business, and pharmaceutical companies.

(1) Digital Twin: A group of technologies that digitally reproduce real world information in real time.
(2) EMR: Electric Medical Record
(3) PHR: Abbreviation of Personal Health Record. A system in which individuals accumulate and manage their own medical information and other health-related information. Refers to disclosure that can be controlled by an individual.
(4) ASU: Abbreviation of Academic Science Unit. Researchers from companies promoted by Tohoku University Hospital enter the medical field and conduct on-site observations.
A program that explores needs, applies design thinking, and finds development targets. (in Japanese)
(5) OBL: OPEN BED Lab. Research and development initiative established and operated by Tohoku University Hospital. The initiative aims to provide companies with a demonstration environment and other resources to incorporate the viewpoint of medical practice into joint research and development projects with private enterprises. (in Japanese)
(6) Fujitsu Japan Co., Ltd.: Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; COO and Representative Director of the Board: Takayuki Sunada.
(7) Frailty spiral: Frailty refers to a state of weakness between “healthy” and “in need of nursing care,” in which, although not a disease, muscle strength and mental and physical vitality decrease with age, making it more likely to require nursing care. The “frailty-spiral” is a series of three frailties: “physical frailty,” such as reduced mobility due to muscle weakness; “mental and psychological frailty,” such as depression and mild dementia; and “social frailty,” such as living alone or in financial poverty.
(8) Tohoku University Vision 2030: Challenging vision of Tohoku University looking ahead to the year 2030. The key is to realize a virtuous cycle of “education,” “research,” and “co-creation with society” at a higher level by innovating university management based on the three traditional principles of Tohoku University. (in Japanese)

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