New AI Helps Doctors Spot High Calcium

calsense AI NUHS

A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool can flag high calcium levels in the blood to doctors in real-time, prompting faster patient care. The tool is developed by the National University Health System (NUHS).

CalSense flags abnormal levels

CalSense, short for calcium sensing, shows a live dashboard that gather, process and display patients’ blood test results.

From January to July 2023, 26,000 calcium tests at NUHS found 1,600 abnormal cases above 2.6 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). Normal is 2.2 to 2.6mmol/L.

What is Hypercalecmia

Hypercalcemia is often from overactive parathyroid glands. These glands control the body’s blood calcium levels. Other causes of hypercalcemia include cancer, certain medical disorders, some medications, and excessive consumption of calcium and vitamin D supplements.*

Associate Professor Ngiam Kee Yuan is NUHS Chief Technology Officer. He said: “CalSense allows us to automate a process that previously had to rely on doctors to run through blood test results when patients return for a clinical review. It flags out cases that require prompt interventions across our network of hospitals, national specialty centres and polyclinics in real-time, reducing the administrative work of doctors and expediting medical care.”

CalSense Tool flags serious risks

Subsequently, Assistant Group Chief Technology Officer Dr James Lee warned, “If patients do not receive timely treatments, they may suffer complications from hypercalcemia, which may include osteoporosis and fractures, kidney stones, kidney failure, mental disorders and even potentially sudden cardiac death.”

“High calcium linked to cancer could also mean delayed diagnosis if uninvestigated,” added Dr Lee, also an Associate Consultant in the Division of General Surgery (Endocrine & Thyroid Surgery), NUH.

AI dashboard networks patient data

CalSense is hosted on Endeavour AI, an AI dashboard showing NUHS patient data. It considers investigative results to identify hypercalcemia causes accurately. Furthermore, CalSense received Ministry of Health funding support in its development.

Also, Dr Lee said blood tests check for various symptoms. They include abdominal pain, bone pain, and thirst. Urination tests can also screen for some other conditions.

In the future, Endeavour AI could also be used to monitor cancer, diabetes and post-operation complications.

AI boosts hospital planning

Pathfinder, another Endeavour AI project, is being tested in NUH’s Emergency Department (ED). It tracks bed occupancy for better resource planning.

Pathfinder also monitors ED waiting times and predicts monthly attendance figures.

Deputy Chief Technology Officer Dr Ian Mathews, NUH Emergency/ Medicine Senior Consultant is part of this project. Dr Matthews said, “This project will empower us to make more informed decisions about how best to allocate our resources, including manpower, hospital bed utilisation and the coordination of essential support services, such as our NUHS@Home programme.”



(From left, seated) Associate Professor Ngiam Kee Yuan, Group Chief Technology Officer, National University Health System. Mr Poh Chin Sheng, who is a patient of Dr James Lee, Assistant Group Chief Technology Officer, NUHS. Mr Poh’s high blood calcium level was flagged by CalSense, so that Dr Lee could identify him early and hasten his subsequent appointments and treatment.

(From left, standing) Dr Jing Lin, Senior Data Scientist, NUHS; Dr Ian Mathews, Deputy Group Chief Technology Officer, NUHS; and Dr Mohammad Shaheryar Furqan, Lead Data Scientist, NUHS.

Credit to:  National University Health System

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