Realm AI (Interdisciplinary REseArch Links for Medical AI: Management of musculo-skeletal injury) is a 3-year project funded by the British Council and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK – 217M518) awarded to Hacettepe University (HU) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The aim of this project is to develop the collaboration between HU and QMUL to build Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven decision support tools in healthcare. The project focuses on developing decision support systems to manage musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which are the primary source of chronic pain worldwide. Although Turkey has a relatively young population compared to most European countries, MSK conditions also present an increasing burden of care in Turkey’s health-care sector as Turkey’s population is rapidly aging.

Information technology has the potential to transform healthcare (sometimes called eHealth) by developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems that embody clinical knowledge for both diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. These systems can be used alongside healthcare workers to support decision making: in this role they also help to ensure that up to date clinical knowledge is being used. In other settings, patients may also use these systems and this can help to manage simple conditions with appropriate advice, avoiding overloading scarce clinical resources. The use of eHealth technology has potential to increase the accessibility of high quality clinical-care especially in remote areas of Turkey where health personnel are in short supply.

The MSK DSS will be based on a state-of-the-art AI technology called Bayesian network (BN) and will include the latest clinical evidence while learning from data. BNs offer a suitable medium for integrating clinical knowledge with data, enabling us to develop a decision support tool based on high-quality clinical knowledge, latest clinical evidence, and data. The causal reasoning mechanism of BNs make it possible to refine and adapt a DSS to changes in clinical evidence and practice, and differences between practice and locations where the tool is applied. The MSK system developed in this project, has potential in future to make more effective use of the time of physiotherapists, who are in high demand. More generally, the project will provide a case study in one approach to the development of eHealth solutions in Turkey, allowing the technologies to become more widely known.