The problems with our healthcare system are well known, well documented – and endlessly debated. What’s not so apparent is that many of them arise because our healthcare system isn’t, in fact, a system.
Rising costs, limited access, high error rates, lack of coverage, poor response to chronic disease and the lengthy development cycle for new medicines – most of these could be improved if we could link diagnosis to drug discovery to healthcare providers to insurers to employers to patients and communities.
Today, these components, processes and participants that comprise the vast healthcare system aren’t connected. Duplication and handoffs are rampant. Deep wells of lifesaving information are inaccessible.
A smarter healthcare system starts with better connections, better data, and faster and more detailed analysis. It means integrating our data and centering it on the patient, so each person has access to his or her information, and a networked team to provide collaborative care. It means moving away from paper records, in order to reduce medical errors and improve efficiencies. And it means applying advanced analytics to vast amounts of data, to improve outcomes.
Smarter healthcare is instrumented, so our health systems can automatically capture accurate, real-time information.
The IBM joint initiative with Google Health and the Continua Health Alliance enables individuals and families to store and track their health information and stream data from medical devices. Healthcare providers in Australia are using predictive health systems with advanced telemetry to monitor elderly patients in their homes, sharing data instantly.
Smarter healthcare is interconnected, so healthcare professionals can all share information seamlessly and efficiently.
The Danish National e-Health portal is providing doctors with instant access to their patients’ health history and records. This new system has the lowest medical error rate in the world and a 94% satisfaction rating from patients. Servicio Extremeño de Salud, a public healthcare service in Spain, has built a regionally integrated system that lets patients go to many health centres within the region, knowing a doctor there can have the patients’ complete, up-to-date records for faster and more accurate treatment.
Smarter healthcare is intelligent, applying advanced analytics to improve research, diagnosis and treatment.
BioGrid Australia, led by Melbourne Health, is bringing together remote databases from multiple hospital sites into a single view, using this clinical research data to improve the treatment of diabetes, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis and cancer. IBM is helping some of the world’s top universities develop a global network of medical data, giving doctors diagnostic resources that were once unimaginable. These repositories currently hold millions of digital images.
Smarter healthcare systems like these hold promise beyond their particular communities, patients and diseases. The smart ideas from one can be replicated across an increasingly efficient, interconnected and intelligent system. This should result in lower costs, better-quality care and healthier people and communities. In other words, we’ll have a true healthcare system, with the focus where it belongs – on the patient.
Let’s build a smarter planet.