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Global AI Network Aiming To Improve Urban Heart Health Equity Launches In New York City

  • AI4HealthyCities Health Equity Network from the Novartis Foundation, Microsoft AI for Health and NYU School of Global Public Health uses data and analytics to target heart health inequity

  • Additional cities will be announced soon, with each city program examining the influence of different factors impacting heart health, such as structural racism, housing or education

  • AI4HealthyCities challenges the current reality where neighboring zip codes have drastic differences in their residents’ heart health

New York is the first city to be announced in the new AI4HealthyCities Health Equity Network, which aims to reimagine how cities tackle heart health inequities.

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“Whether at a global or local level, health inequities are shaped by economic status and access to resources,” said Dr Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation. “In New York and other cities, we believe that data and AI-driven insights can help stakeholders make informed decisions on impactful urban heart health interventions that ultimately reach the greatest number of people.”

AI4HealthyCities aims to bring together data from the health and health influencing sectors and apply innovative data science techniques to provide authorities and other decision makers with insights about the main drivers of cardiovascular disease – the world’s number one cause of death and disability.1 As health is not only influenced by quality of healthcare, but also by the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, and age, these data-driven insights could increase understanding about how heart health could be improved by modifying some of the underlying social, economic or environmental determinants of health. This includes factors as diverse as housing, access to healthy food, physical exercise or green space, education, professional occupation, pollution, migration, and the influence of structural racism and agism.

The AI4HealthyCities Health Equity Network was created by the Novartis Foundation and developed in collaboration with Microsoft AI for Health. The Novartis Foundation is convening this new network as part of its commitment to help cities tackle the burning health issues of our time – cardiovascular disease and health inequity – by using data and analytics to re-engineer reactive care systems into proactive, predictive and preventive health systems that keep people healthy. In New York City, the initiative is run in partnership with the New York University School of Global Public Health; the public hospital system NYC Health + Hospitals; and the city health authorities.

Dr José Pagán, Professor of Public Health Policy and Management at the NYU School of Global Public Health and Chair of the Board of Directors of NYC Health + Hospitals, New York City’s public hospital system, said: “Where people live and work in New York, and their degree of social and economic disadvantage, have a bigger impact on their risk of developing cardiovascular disease than their access to healthcare. This initiative will give us better insights into the cardiovascular health of New Yorkers in an effort to identify the most pressing issues to address and shape our city’s policies.”

The initiative could help urban policymakers better target health resources towards the interventions that could have the greatest impact on heart health.

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Dr Mitchell Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said: “Health equity is central to the mission and values of NYC Health + Hospitals. Finding new ways to use data on social determinants of health and cardiovascular disease can help us inform our work and delivery on the promise of enabling all New Yorkers to live their healthiest lives.”

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Juan Lavista Ferres, Chief Data Scientist at Microsoft, said: “Combining anonymized population data from many different sources enables us to use machine learning to go down to street level in assessing levels of cardiovascular risk. If properly applied this could revolutionize preventive interventions in heart health.”

The Novartis Foundation will support the implementation of the initiative through global coordination and convening urban population health and cardiovascular health expertise. It will work with city authorities and their partners to translate the data insights into population health roadmaps and disseminate learnings through the AI4HealthyCities summits.

The NYU School of Global Public Health will lead the research in collaboration with Microsoft AI for Health by bringing together data on cardiovascular disease and social determinants of heart health in New York City. Microsoft AI for Health will provide the data management and analytic tools.

AI4HealthyCities is part of the Novartis Foundation’s global vision to improve urban heart health and narrow health inequities. It builds on the Novartis Foundation’s proven CARDIO4Cities approach, which reimagined a citywide response to reducing overall cardiovascular risk, in three initial pilot cities (São Paulo, Dakar and Ulaanbaatar). In each city, the initiative tripled blood pressure control rates, sometimes bringing the control rates to better levels than those achieved in European countries. The Novartis Foundation is currently expanding the approach to include other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, in São Paulo, Dakar, and Ho Chi Minh City.

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