Nienke Bakx: success AI in healthcare hinges on a lot of handwork and support from staff

September 16, 2022

Medical engineer in training talks with podcast host Lieven Scheire about how she used AI to treat breast cancer patients.

Nienke Bakx and supervisor Coen Hurkmans
Nienke Bakx and supervisor Coen Hurkmans

Artificial intelligence has gained a strong foothold in healthcare in recent years. However, major challenges remain, such as obtaining suitable data - in practice still mostly a matter of laborious handwork - and creating support among medical staff. Nienke Bakx, who recently completed her EngD Qualified Medical Engineer degree with honors, took on both challenges with great enthusiasm. She talks about them in this new episode of our Dutch-language science podcast Sound of Science.

Bakx (26) works at the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven. There she spent the past two years researching the use of AI in making radiation plans for breast cancer patients, to ensure that the right dose is administered. The EngD student Qualified Medical Engineering also investigated whether whether the delineation of organs of breast cancer patients can be done quickly, accurately and reliably by computer.

Data and support

"An important part of my work involved finding suitable data to train the algorithms. Which is largely manual work. It takes a lot of time and effort to clean up the data," Bakx says.

The brand-new EngD also spent considerable time creating support among medical staff. "It's really important that you share the results from your research as soon as possible so that people see that it works. Of course, it helps a lot if you have some pioneers among the staff that get their colleagues interested."

Bakx will continue to work at Catharina after completing her traineeship. She will work there partly as an AI researcher in the Radiotherapy Department. She will also play a key role in the establishment of a new Center of AI Expertise.

Listen to the podcast

In the latest episode of our science podcast Sound of Science, hear all about Nienke's research and her ambitions for AI in healthcare.

You can listen to the interview below. Or go to your favorite podcast platform and search for "Sound of Science. Subscribe to the channel to be automatically notified of new episodes!

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