Mydigitwin: Using Big-Data to put a cardiovascular digital twin into the hands of people

Project MyDigiTwin is a national Big-Data research initiative where individuals can build a digital twin. This is accomplished through artificial intelligence using data derived from hundreds of thousands of people. The concept is that individuals input their own health data, for example, through an app. By linking this personal data with the data from individuals participating in long-term health studies, a picture of the personal health situation emerges. It is the first time that individuals can compare their personal health data with big-data reference data from multiple cohorts. Such a digital twin can assist individuals in the future to gain more precise insights into the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, such a digital twin can motivate someone to choose a healthier lifestyle.

The MyDigiTwin project is under the leadership of Cardiologist Prof. Dr. Pim Van der Harst, whom we - along with the research coordinator Rupsha Paul - spoke with at the beginning of October.

Big-Data Research through Public-Private Collaboration

The research is one of the four Big Data studies aiming to recognize and treat cardiovascular diseases more quickly. The Dutch eScience Center provides support through eScience Research Engineers. Science and businesses collaborate and coordinate with citizens, patients, and healthcare professionals.

The affiliated universities in this research are UMC Utrecht, Erasmus MC, UMC Groningen, Radboud UMC, and soon Amsterdam UMC. Additionally, many other partners are involved, including Siemens Healthineers Nederland N.V., HartKlinieken, Drimpy, Harteraad, HartNet Noord-Nederland, Huisartsenpraktijk Waardenburg, Mijnhuisarts BV, Hartstichting, NL Heart Registration, Heartlife Klinieken, Niped, Gezondheidsplein Middelstum, NL Healthcare Institute, The Story Network, RTRN, Menzis, Novartis Pharma B.V., Bayer B.V., and Sanofi-Aventis NL B.V.

Digitalization Works in Our Favor

The research project experienced some delays and commenced in the spring of 2022. The project is now well in tune with the current spirit.

"Covid accelerated digitalization in healthcare. Due to physical restrictions, we sought other ways to share information and stay connected. Remote care has been and continues to be prominent, and remote meetings have become quite normal. The fact that everyone is accustomed to working online works greatly to our advantage now," Pim explained. Rupsha added: "At Drimpy (PGO pilot case), we now have over 65,000 users, whereas a few years ago, we only had 5 to 7 thousand. This number is expected to grow much faster in the coming years. Additionally, with the introduction of the MedMij quality mark, there is a better foundation for exchanging health data. Drimpy has successfully completed the full admission process, being the first PGO supplier in the Netherlands to do so. Bringing all data together is the next major step."

Pim continued, "We have hired several scientists in recent months, and the Kick Off took place in September. The ramp-up took a while, but we now have better starting points, and the most exciting time is upon us."

How Does MyDigiTwin Work?

Individuals manage their data themselves and can upload it to MyDigiTwin to link it with other data and gain insight into their own health. The latest developments in artificial intelligence are used for this purpose. Based on self-entered information and data from an individual's pharmacy, general practitioner, and hospital, a personalized risk score is generated. This enables the individual to immediately understand their heart health status, for instance, in relation to the development of various cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, and heart failure. However, the MyDigiTwin project can also help someone reduce the risk of disease and negative outcomes, such as by examining the impact of adjustments to their lifestyle, such as diet and exercise. Additionally, the participant can create a report of their health to discuss with their treating physicians.

The data in the MyDigiTwin app is not traceable to individuals. The platform being developed is a kind of hub that only exchanges risk calculations. "It is primarily about providing insight; we do not offer further treatment advice."

MyDigiTwin Goes Beyond a PGO

In the upcoming years, it is expected that more and more individuals will collect their health data themselves in a digital environment, known as a PGO: Personal Health Environment. Such a PGO is a lifelong online tool for patients to maintain control over their health data: from treatment to medication and from test results to vaccinations. In a PGO, like Drimpy's, you can keep track of reliable information about your own health and actively engage with your well-being. With a PGO, you can gather your health data and view, manage, and securely share it in one place. This makes changes in your health more visible and the consequences of certain treatments clearer.

Pim stated, "For now, a PGO is merely a vault of data and not a tool for preventing or treating diseases. We are building MyDigiTwin on top of such a PGO,
thus taking it a step further.

This will enable individuals to analyze, comprehend, and utilize their personal health data to gain deeper insights into their health. They can then take action themselves. This necessitates bringing together a significant amount of knowledge and expertise as well as adjustments in the data."

Engagement and Empowerment

"With MyDigiTwin, we strive for individuals to become more engaged in their health and become motivated to make actual changes in their lifestyle and work preventatively on their health. MyDigiTwin shows you where you stand concerning the health of your heart.