LONDON: Artificial intelligence (AI) and data have allowed health systems and governments to predict and ascertain coronavirus patient demand curves, as well as find out where and what type of capacity is needed, the group chief financial officer at the Abu Dhabi Health Services Co. (SEHA) said during a webinar on Friday.

That enabled hospitals in Abu Dhabi to be equipped with ventilators to treat critically ill patients and “to effectively double our ICU (intensive care unit) bed capacity … in a relatively short period of time,” George Kapitelli said.

The webinar was titled “Artificial intelligence in the time of COVID-19.” It was hosted by the Emirates Society in the UK, and was moderated by its Chairman Alistair Burt.

Other speakers included Orlando Agrippa, CEO of Draper & Dash Predictive Healthcare Analytics, and Northumbria Healthcare CEO Sir James Mackey.

Agrippa said: “What we want to do as a health system in Abu Dhabi is not to tackle this virus from a sort of guessing perspective. We want to leverage data, analytics and advanced technology to be able to get in front of it and really manage it at a cellular level.”

He added: “We started looking at what South Korea was doing, what Singapore was doing, what the guys in Germany are doing, or Sweden, that made their situation different from others. We spent an enormous amount of time looking at that.

“We looked at splitting the population into categories. The Middle East has a very different population configuration than the UK, for example.

“We had to do all those things to try to get some sense of when it (COVID-19) will peak, and what will be the true demand and true capacity requirement.”

Kapitelli praised the UAE and its residents and citizens for taking a proactive role in curbing the spread of the virus.

“What I see in the UAE, compared to my home country Australia, is a much better application of basic principles of social distancing and wearing masks and gloves,” he said. “People just accept that here (in the UAE), and I think that obviously plays a positive role.”

Sir James said the use of AI and data gathering is essential in order to be prepared for the next phase of coronavirus.

“One of our problems throughout this whole episode has been access to data beyond our own boundaries,” he added.

“In terms of trying to understand what was coming, our main source of information was ringing friends in London and finding out what was happening there — London was always about two weeks ahead of us (Northumbria). That’s a big gap that we’ve got to close down ahead of this next phase.”