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 Life and Work
Adoctor’s appointment at nine in the morning at the Uni- versity Medical Center Mannheim. The diagnosis: an oli- gometastatic tumor. This is a cancer with minor, isolated scattering of the tumor, referred to as metastases. The treatment room is full of technology. An x-ray robot scans every millimeter of the man lying on the treatment table. High-resolu- tion images are ready thirty minutes later. A robotic assistance system, into which the precision data that was only just collect- ed is input, moves a biopsy needle to the position identified with pinpoint accuracy. The medical specialist now takes over. Imme- diately afterwards, the tissue removed undergoes a fully automat- ed analysis. The members of the “tumor board,” a committee of doctors from different disciplines, discuss the results and arrive at a unanimous decision on which therapy to pursue for each indi- vidual metastasis: radiotherapy, thermal therapy, or chemothera- py? The doctor performs the treatment with the assistance of the robot, fitted with the appropriate instrument. By 3 p.m., just six hours later, the patient has completed treatment.
What sounds like science fiction is actually more of a reality than anyone might suspect. An interdisciplinary project com- prised of doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and consultants is systematically working on turning treatments like this into reality within the foreseeable future.
Globally, one out of every five men and one in every six women will receive a cancer diagnosis. For around 20 percent of those affected, the primary tumor will metastasize. For cases that are this severe, palliative treatment is frequently the only option at present. And this is the case for around 320,000 people in Germany every year. Fortunately, artificial intelligence and state- of-the-art robot technology are opening up new perspectives for the treatment of these patients. Professor Stefan Schön- berg, Director of the Institute of Clinical Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University Medical Center Mannheim, is one of the specialists responsible for the research project. “We intend to extend the period for which cancer patients survive for many years using innovative therapeutic methods,” he says. “Instead of being a terminal illness, cancer will become a chronic illness.”
In order to edge closer to achieving this worthy objective, a hitherto unparalleled initiative has been launched. Almost one hundred scientists—including doctors, engineers, and data scientists—are developing new procedures for imaging, diag- nostics, and therapy. Their insights are being combined in the ex- perimental innovation space called M2OLIE (Mannheim Molecular Intervention Environment) at the University Medical Center Mannheim. This is also where the world’s most advanced robotic x-ray system can be found, a system that utilizes a large variety of image data to screen and identify any suspicious changes in bodily tissue at an early stage. It is currently being trialed on a model of a human upper body at the research campus. Artificial intelligence is being used to analyze and evaluate the patient data. This allows a procedure to be carried out that is much more precise than previously conceivable. In the medium to long term, the treatment will be able to be calibrated exactly to the indi- vidual patient’s pathology. State-of-the-art robotic assistance systems will assist with treatment. The examination of tissue samples serves as an example: even an experienced doctor often needs half an hour just to place a needle in the suspicious tissue
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Use Cases
Digital technologies will be used to reduce the patient turnover time from days to just a few hours. To do this, the Porsche consultants are identifying use cases, or specific opportunities to employ software-based solutions. For exam- ple, a digital planning tool that can illustrate and interlink all patient-based processes. In doing so, artificial intelligence will be used to optimize procedures and reduce waiting times.
Rapid Prototyping
The rapid prototyping method originates in soft- ware development. The Porsche consultants are using it within the M2OLIE project to conduct rapid tests of how the previously identified us- age cases function. What is known as a minimum viable product with basic functions can be pro- grammed and tested within a short period of time.
Closed Loop
Along with the procedures in the treatment room, a large number of other activities contribute to a patient’s health. The consultants are therefore working on a holistic process model for what is referred to as the patient journey. This starts with recording and processing medical data using smart technology, involves data-based and au- tomatic appointment organization in hospitals, and extends through to predictive maintenance of the technical equipment.

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