By 2030, almost 14 million Canadians will have either diabetes or pre-diabetes. In the Peel Region, about 1 in 10 people have diabetes; and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is higher than the rest of Ontario. Because of systems-level barriers such as socioeconomic disparities, high medication costs, lack of access to healthy and affordable foods, it has been difficult to scale effective diabetes prevention and management programs from the individual to entire populations. 

Dr. Laura Rosella, Stephen Family Research Chair in Community Health at the Institute for Better Health (IBH) and Co-Director of the AI for Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (AI4DPP) Solutions Network, and Dr. Ibukun Abejirinde, Scientist, IBH, and AI4DPP Member, working with partners including the University of Toronto and Women’s College Hospital, were awarded a grant from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) to address barriers to preventing the onset and consequences of diabetes across populations.

The AI4DPP Solutions Network recently gathered for their inaugural meeting, hosted by CIFAR. This insightful event brought together a dynamic mix of Network members, local community partners from Peel Region, people with lived experiences (THP patient and family partners), public health, health care providers, health system leaders, experts and trainees to plan meaningful engagement strategies with the community and responsibly deploy diabetes machine learning models to inform diabetes prevention and management in Peel Region. 

Highlights of the day included:  

  • Key concepts in population health and AI: Dr. Rosella introduced key concepts in population health, health systems and AI. 
  • Vision & framework development: Jay Shaw, Solution Network Co-Director and Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Responsible Health Innovation, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto (U of T), and Remziye Zaim, Postdoctoral Researcher, U of T, shared exciting progress on the Responsible AI for Health Systems (RAIHS) Framework.  
  • Interactive dashboard co-design: Led by Dr. Shion Guha (U of T) and PhD student Victoria Chui, participants collaborated on designing a dashboard prototype for diabetes risk in Peel Region, ensuring it meets local needs.  
  • Community engagement approach: Dr. Ibukun Abejirinde and Ijeoma Itanyi, IBH trainee and PhD candidate at U of T, facilitated vital discussions on community engagement, guiding principles for responsible AI deployment in health systems that centers the voice of the community and fosters trust. 

This meeting was a pivotal step towards integrating machine learning models in diabetes prevention and management, emphasizing community engagement and responsible AI use. The collective efforts and insights gathered will significantly inform next steps and the development of a comprehensive diabetes dashboard for Peel Region. Together, we are paving the way for a healthier future through partnering with the community for the responsible deployment of AI! 

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