Data-driven Solutions for Healthcare Industry

2014-10-10 by Marina Astapchik

Big data tools will radically speed the medical innovation process, deliver breakthrough discoveries and customized treatments. Hospitals, clinics and private practices have digitalized the data, creating massive databases. As a result, there are enormous information banks that still require management in order to unlock their potential. Physicians and medical researchers believe they will be able not only to propose the best possible customized treatment for an individual but also to catch a disease outbreak beforehand, direct vaccine to the critical areas and save lives. Other potential benefits of data-driven healthcare solutions include managing specific individual and population health care more effectively, predicting certain medical outcomes based on historical data, complications, detecting illness/disease progression, causal factors for it etc.

Marc Perlman, the Global Vice President of Healthcare and Life Sciences for Oracle claims that the path toward "care coordination and personalized medicine" is based on data integration. For instance, the First Warning System smart bra is able to detect breast cancer with a 90% accuracy rate, while the Dash smart headphones monitor vital disorder signals. So MarketsandMarkets, the today's healthcare analytics market is expected to grow $10.8 billion by 2017 (in comparison with the current $ 3.7 billion). Moreover, data from U.S. healthcare system alone reached 150 exabytes in 2011. Keeping pace at this speed, the data will reach the zettabyte (1021 gigabytes) and then the yottabyte (1024 gigabytes), so the U.S. Institute for Health Technology Transformation.

As software developing company, at Elinext we believe that only advance customized and healthcare industry specific solutions can generate maximum results from the medical big data. What is "big data", to begin with? Under this definition one understands "large volumes of velocity complex, and variable data that require advanced techniques and technologies to enable the capture, storage, distribution, management and analysis of information". What are the areas where data-driven software tools are and can be efficient? We think that the next relevant spheres singled out by the U.S. McKinsey Global Institute are the most important ones:

a) Clinical operations. Big-data solutions detect more effective treatment ways as well as create patient profiles.

b) Research and development. Data-driven software enables medical organizations to improve clinical trials and analyze them in a better way.

c) Public health. There is an opportunity to analyze disease patterns, develop relevant vaccines and turn large amounts of information into actionable data, on the whole.

How far the path toward data-driven solutions and what is worth making progress on?
First of all, mobile Health. The mobile revolution continues. The latest thing here is, probably, iOS 8's new health app that is intended to bring together all of the fragmented health and fitness gadgets into one location and offers sections for Diagnostics, Fitness, Lab Results, Medications, Nutrition, Sleep, and more, creating an overview of a person's health. By the way, it is the first healthcare app, launched by Apple itself, not an app form a third party.

Doctors are in love with their mobile phones and tablets as well because it gives them access to extra high reliability data, drug reference materials that earlier was available only at their workplaces in hospitals. Patients use mobile apps to track different aspects of their health from counting calories to more complex issues like managing chronic disease. Mobile apps continue to grow as they target specific needs and monitor more serious medical conditions.

We have such specific experience of our own. Recently, we've developed a mobile Body Tan Scan app, which helps users to make a picture of his or her skin, publish it online via Social Networks and have a reference guide on tan processes at hand. Due to this app, we have a deep understanding of the fact that customers bet on easy-to-access and smart analytical healthcare software tools. Analytics is our next point.

Analytic software for healthcare has to do with the phenomenon of big data. The focus of analytic software is an individual quality of healthcare and increased access to relevant data that enables a deeper understanding of the problem. That is why analytical healthcare software is on rise. We would distinguish here two main trends: software for medical professionals and patients.

As for the former, the foundational analytics is, first of all, used to deliver an individual treatment, taking into account all patient characteristics and capturing the collective memory of the care delivery system. (Mostly, such tools use an innovative algorithm to look for patient similarity to derive tailored insights regarding a custom course of action.) Thus, New York General Hospital reports to use a real-time analytics to improve patients' outcomes and provide multiple perspectives. In Italy, the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute benefits from an advanced analytics to get a more specific insight of the clinical variations within families because individuals show extreme differences in the severity of their symptoms. Results report to have reduced annual hospitalizations by 30%.

Medical professionals take also advantage of detection of medical problems and complication at early stages. For example, Columbia University Medical Centre has implemented an analytic program for patients with brain injuries to supply timely information for treatment of severe complications. The Medical Centre reports to diagnose complications 48% sooner than earlier for patients who suffered from a bleeding stroke. Another famous example is the John Hopkins School for Medicine which uses data from Google Flu Trends to foresee an increase in flu-related cases at least a week before warning from CDC. Due to analytical software, the children hospital in Toronto, Canada, can identify signs of infection as early as 24 hours prior to previous methods.

Moving on, hospitals and physicians also drive cost benefits from using analytical software. Thus, IBM reports that an unnamed healthcare provider benefits from an electronic medical record system that has reduced costs and improved patient treatment.

By the way, electronic records along with analytics are considered to be the most popular healthcare software. Health records software tools are crucially important for patients with chronic and life-threatening disorders. Thus, Microsoft seems to bet on electronic health records as well. The company transformed its software called HealthVault by launching a pilot program with Greenway Medical Technologies. The program lets patients create a HealthVault account and access their medical information including medications, labs tests, allergies etc.

Meanwhile, IT developers should not only keep pace with the requests of medical organizations but also solve some challenges. First of all, new software tools should be compatible with the existing tools since there are no standardized rules and frameworks for medical data. But the most sensitive concerns are about patient privacy. How to unlock the potential of the aggregated healthcare data keeping it secure, that is the question.

However, an obvious thing for us is that with the potential to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, there will be a rise in data-driven solutions adoption by both the medical professionals and patients while IT developers will address all the challenges related to it.

Elinext Group projects:

Financial and accounting SaaS Application
SaaS CRM System for financial services provider
PCA Skin Medical App
Day Nurseries & Care Homes App
EdQuants Analytic App
FX Grant analytic platform for Forex Traders

Industries and Technology Areas:

Industries: healthcare

Technology Areas: software development, big data processing software, SaaS, cloud services

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