How data is making healthcare better
Data-driven healthcare has the potential to save lives and billions of dollars from health budgets but challenges relating to the collection, sharing and interoperability of medical data need to be overcome first.
Big data has already transformed almost every aspect of life, and healthcare is no exception. Our analysis has identified data-driven healthcare as an idea whose time has come. Advances in data collection, storage and analytics have been accompanied by the proliferation of data – for example, from sensors and devices, clinical information systems and electronic health records. At the same time, data standards and interoperability are becoming more widespread, allowing developers to find more applications for health data.
This use of data will underpin smart services that further empower citizens to engage in their own healthcare, allow health professionals to operate at the top of their license and improve the productivity of healthcare workers.
Singapore is an example of a country in the vanguard of efforts to create a digital healthcare system, with its “One Singaporean, One Health Record” vision. Singapore’s National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) will allow key medical information, such as medication history and clinical diagnoses, to be exchanged between healthcare providers.¹ But in many countries, major barriers need to be overcome relating to the collection, sharing and interoperability of medical data before intelligent healthcare enterprises can succeed at scale.
Intelligent healthcare enterprises is one of four themes that we believe will be central to the digitization of healthcare over the next decade. The other themes we examine are smart care, care anywhere, and empowered care.
There has been a huge increase in the volume of data produced by healthcare organizations. This information is feeding next-generation analytics technologies such as big data, cognitive computing and machine learning to improve the delivery of cancer treatments, personalize medical interventions, predict chronic diseases, drive behavioral change and more.
Artificial intelligence is constantly evolving and improving. The key technology is in place to capture data from disparate sources and provide a real-time view of a patient’s health. Rapid advances have occurred in all the associated technologies, such as mobile, cloud, analytics and the Internet of Things, that are necessary to deliver solutions in advanced artificial intelligence. Consequently, the global predictive analytics market is forecast to grow by almost 20% a year, reaching $6.5 billion by 2019.
However, the development of accessible intelligence in healthcare is being held back by difficulties in using medical data. Today, hospitals and clinics are awash with data from patients’ electronic medical records and from other healthcare and payments systems.
Hospitals and insurers often believe that a citizen’s health data belongs to them. In fact, it should belong to the citizen and be available when the citizen demands it.
Physicians’ attitudes toward data sharing also need to change, with a recent survey of physicians in the United States and the United Kingdom finding that two thirds of them are reluctant to share all their patient data.²
A big-data spinoff from Stanford University, Ayasdi, is an example of the benefits that data-driven healthcare can bring. Its specialty is to use a state-of-the-art technique called topological data analysis to visualize extremely complex data sets as shapes. It works with Mercy Hospitals to analyze electronic medical records, generating customized care plans for patients, which can be accessed by physicians and nurses on iPads. Mercy Hospitals estimates that this system will save it $100 million over the next three years.³
The connected worker initiative optimizes labor assets by using digital technologies, workflow automation and clinical decision support (such as data-driven protocols and standardization), to improve performance and use resources more efficiently. As Figure 1 shows, physicians are increasingly using digital technologies but there is still plenty of potential for further digital adoption in healthcare.
In the hospital environment, connected worker technologies benefit nurses, physicians and surgeons. A connected nurse could make use of mobile, safety tracking, collaboration and analytics, so that they could complete their work more effectively and increase patient quality of care and experience. A connected physician could work across various departments from cardiology, labor and delivery, to gynecology, radiology and nephrology, while a connected surgeon could deliver better care through greater precision in the operating room and better coordination with the care team.⁴ It is estimated that a system of connected devices could save the US healthcare system more than $30 billion a year and save more than 400,000 individuals from harm.⁵
The Medical Express (MedEx) Ambulance Service, a Chicago-based provider of ambulance and telemedicine services is among the first to use Google Glass to aid connected paramedics in the field. The ambulance company has spent $250,000 developing the service and has acquired 10 new critical-care ambulances designed to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots to support the technology. The technology will allow paramedics to stream live first-person videos to the hospitals where they are headed, which will help doctors prepare appropriately for incoming patients.
Sensors and connected devices that can capture all manner of data are becoming ubiquitous. In the healthcare and fitness sector, the worldwide market for wearable devices is expected to soar from 45 million units shipped in 2015 to more than 125 million by 2019.⁶ The number of digital consumer devices entering regulated markets has increased, with FDA approvals for these products expected to triple by 2018 (relative to 2014 levels).⁷ Intelligent devices are a tremendous opportunity for traditional healthcare companies and new medical device manufacturers. The smart contact lens developed by Novartis and Google, which monitors glucose levels in people with diabetes, is just one example of an intelligent device. The potential for savings is immense: it’s estimated that just the wider availability of intelligent devices in healthcare will save the US health system $50 billion by 2018.⁸
Proteus Biomedical has taken the use of wearable devices a step further to create a living service based on monitoring medication adherence and improving the efficiency of research and development such as clinical trials. The patient swallows an ingestible sensor with their drugs while wearing a sensor patch. Data about whether the drug has been taken is transmitted to Proteus, which uses analytics to predict whether a patient will remember to take their medication and can also send an alert to their phone.⁹ The Proteus service, approved in 2012, is up and running in the United States.
1. “Accenture Wins Contract to Implement Singapore’s National Electronic Health Record System”, Accenture, August 2, 2010, https://newsroom.accenture.com/industries/health-public-service/accenture-wins-contract-to-implement-singapores-national-electronic-health-record-system.htm.
2. Munro, Dan, “New Poll Shows Two-Thirds of Doctors Reluctant to Share Health Data With Patients”, Forbes, June 8, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2015/06/08/two%E2%80%92thirds-of-doctors-are-reluctant-to-share-health-data-with-patients/
3. Ungerleider, Neal, “How Ayasdi made $55 Million from Big Data”, Fast Company, 2015, http://www.fastcompany.com/3044258/fast-feed/how-ayasdi-made-55-million-from-big-data
4. “Nighthawk Radiology Services and Solutions”, Excalibur Healthcare, www.excaliburmed.com/teleradiology-services-solutions/nighthawk-teleradiology/
5. Newmarket, Chris, “Nurses Want Medical Devices to be More Connected”, Qmed, March 13, 2015, http://www.qmed.com/news/nurses-want-medical-devices-be-more-connected
6. ”Worldwide Wearable Market Forecast to Reach 45.7 Million Units Shipped in 2015 and 126.1 Million Units in 2019, According to IDC”, ICD, March 30, 2015, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25519615
7. “Patient Engagement: How the Colossal Clash Will Disrupt the Digital Health Landscape – Infographic”, Accenture, https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-patient-engagement-colossal-clash-disrupt-infographic.aspx.
8. Accenture estimate
9. Cressey, Daniel, “Say hello to intelligent pills”, Nature Publishing Group, January 17, 2012, http://www.nature.com/news/say-hello-to-intelligent-pills-1.9823
Healthcare is one of six industries (along with automotive, consumer, electricity, logistics and media) that have been the focus of the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation of Industries (DTI) 2016 project. An overview of the DTI program can be found here.
Our in-depth findings about the digital transformation of the healthcare industry are available in a white paper, which can be downloaded here.
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