A new invention aims to improve the health outcomes for Indigenous people in the Pilbara by using their data to create a digital twin to test medical solutions. The Digital Twin is a project by Telstra Heath and Google Fitbit to create a virtual replica of the challenging Pilbara environment and the health of the people that live there in order to solve complex medical problems. The project was recently selected as one of the 10 finalists in The Challenge, a State Government competition to find technological solutions for the Pilbara’s struggling healthcare industry. Vickie Irving, from Telstra Health, said digital twins are constantly receiving data from a variety of sources to make health insights about people living in the Pilbara. “Unlike traditional data linkage methods, which require large amounts of time and resources to manually link different datasets at a given point in time, digital twins are interconnected and ‘alive’,” she said. “(They are) constantly receiving encrypted, de-identified data from different sources and leveraging advanced technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to analyse relationships between datasets to reveal new connections and insights that were previously hidden or not fully understood.” Ms Irving said digital twins allow health professionals and policymakers to simulate different scenarios and fine-tune their theories about chronic diseases. The technology uses the data of real people, but they are not identified within the system which instead creates de-identified avatars. Chronic diseases account for 80 per cent of the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and contribute to 90 per cent of the deaths. People living in the Pilbara have a 1.4 times higher rate of non-fatal burden of chronic disease. Ms Irving said that given the challenges of the Pilbara, it was hard for researchers to develop evidence-based healthcare solutions which is what the project seeks to address. “Without timely access to real-world data, researchers cannot develop new treatments for chronic disease, promote evidence-based policymaking, advance program evaluation or create a shared understanding of the distinct clinical, geographical, and subgroup effects of chronic disease on the health of the Pilbara population,” Ms Irving said. The computer-generated replica of the Pilbara is the first of its kind in Australia.