Digital Twin

"Digital twins will be essential to make precision medicine a reality"

We met with AI and Med tech enthusiast Ulrike Attenberger, Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology at the University Hospital in Bonn, to talk about the role of AI in radiology, the potential of patient twins, and what’s needed to design better healthcare.

Romy Albrecht
Published on November 2, 2022

“Professor and Chair in Radiology. AI & MedTech Enthusiast. Driving innovation to improve healthcare is my goal & fascination.” – that’s how the LinkedIn bio of Ulrike Attenberger, MD, goes. With almost 20 years of clinical experience under her belt, the imaging specialist in diagnostic oncology strives to improve the service for her cancer patients. 

<p>And that’s quite a task: “I see that there's a huge lack of efficiency. Our patients really get lost in the system sometimes. And one of the worst things taking the patient’s perspective is the lack of information. Patients do not know: What are the next steps? What would be the best treatment? And what about my life expectancy? What about my outcome? – These are all the questions that we have to answer. It’s my goal to address this problem.” Driven by the urge to create a better healthcare, <a href="https://Porf. Attenberger">Ulrike Attenberger</a> became a strong believer that novel technologies can support clinicians in doing just that. In our video interview, she shares her perspective on AI, digital twins and the future of healthcare.</p>

Ulrike Attenberger, MD, is Director of the Clinic for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at Bonn University Hospital. Her goal is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of tumor patients. To this end, she is focusing in particular on the use of artificial intelligence, for example for the characterization of a disease. The aim is to tailor therapy to the patient's needs. Research stays took Ulrike Attenberger to Harvard, Zurich and Vienna from 2012 to 2015. She has received several awards, including the Fellow Award of the Radiological Society of North America in 2010 and the Walter Friedrich Prize, awarded by the German Society of Radiology, in 2012.

Connect with her on LinkedIn
<p>Ulrike Attenberger is deeply convinced that close interdisciplinary collaboration is needed to use the full potential of technologies like AI: “We need the experience from people that are developing, evaluating, and building the machines; from people that are training the models, and from those people who sort of have the medical experience – because the medical experience defines the need.”</p>
<p>Jointly managing to unleash the potential of those technologies through interdisciplinary collaboration is one thing that’s needed. On the other hand, there are still a couple of structural challenges that need to be dealt with, like the questions of how to collect and sort the needed data adequately, and a lack of legal and ethical frameworks for those novel technologies. If we manage to overcome them though, we could be on our way to a better healthcare, to a more precise and personalized medicine that is tailored to the individual patient: “I would say the best future scenario would be that we have fully integrated digital twins in our clinical-decision making for diagnostics as well as treatment decisions,” Ulrike Attenberger explains.&nbsp;</p><p>Those <a href="patient%20twins">patient twins&nbsp;</a>could also help to prevent people from getting lost in the system in the future: “Digital twins, in my opinion, are very essential for making precision medicine a reality in healthcare, because they are creating an environment to make life-saving decisions based on real time and historic data. From a patient's perspective, I would say that the benefit is that transparency will be increased: If treatment effects can be simulated on a virtual model of mine, it will be much easier to understand what impact a certain kind of treatment has for my life, and moreover, if you think about using wearables to feed information into a twin patients – or better: people, they get self-empowered, they can literally see, how certain lifestyle behaviors will influence their health in a positive or negative manner.”</p>

Ulrike Attenberger, MD, and other experts joined us to talk about what a patient twin is, what challenges come with the creation of a patient twin, and what benefits it could offer both patients and medical practitioners.

Listen now!

Dive deeper into patient twinning

Patient twinning – the future of healthcare
Healthcare Perspectives
Patient twinning – the future of healthcare
Find out what a patient twin is, how it can be created, and what benefits it could offer both patients and medical practitioners. You’ll also learn more about the cloud-based software, Noona, which can be seen as a first step towards a disease-focused version of the digital twin, and how it is used by cancer patients as their 24/7 companion on their journey.

Romy Albrecht
Romy Albrecht
By Romy Albrecht
Romy Albrecht is a digital editor and multimedia content creator at Siemens Healthineers, specializing in technology and innovation topics.