Innovative project aims to transform inflammatory bowel disease care in communities

A research project at the University of Alberta, in partnership with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, is putting the power of big data to work in an effort to deliver specialized care and personalized therapies to Canadians living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

For the study, “Predict Disease Course and Therapy Response in Crohn’s Disease and Colitis” (PREDICT-CC), researchers are using an innovative approach that combines biomedical engineering and artificial intelligence techniques to uncover new ways to understand, predict and prevent IBD – and help improve access to specialist care in Canada.

“To make sure we build the right technology and take the right approach, our research program brings together physicians and data scientists with patients themselves, and experts in public health, ethics, gender studies and Indigenous health,” said Daniel C. Baumgart, PREDICT-CC principal investigator, and professor and director of the Division of Gastroenterology at the U of A.

“We want to ensure equitable access to specialist care to help people manage this chronic disease regardless of where they live.”

The challenge: ensuring access for all

More than 300,000 Canadians have IBD, a number expected to rise to 400,000 later this decade. This rise, spread across a vast geography, creates distinct challenges in effectively managing IBD in Canada.

People who live in rural settings have long had issues accessing medical specialists, who practise mostly inside urban centres. For tens of thousands of Canadians with IBD, that means travelling long distances to receive vital specialist care and attend followup appointments – a problem worsened by winter weather.

“We must recognize, then, that a large number of patients are regularly followed by non-specialists in rural Canada, who need more support in providing consistently high-level care for their patients with this complex disease,” Baumgart noted.

/University of Alberta Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.