A prescription of intelligence for healthcare
In a major hospital, expensive equipment disappears regularly. In a clinic, a patient is given the same blood test again and again — because up-to-date medical records aren't at hand. And though reports conflict, one study (link resides outside of ibm.com) finds an average of 195,000 deaths are caused by preventable medical errors.
These are just a few of the reasons why healthcare costs are ballooning. In some countries, those costs are growing nearly twice as fast as inflation.
Healthcare has a diagnosis for its ailments: inefficiency. But the cure isn't so straightforward. While organisations are becoming information-rich, they remain knowledge-poor, without the tools to better integrate information across their clinical, operations, research and financial systems. But rather than focus on what is wrong with healthcare, it might be more productive — and much healthier — to imagine how we might make a smarter healthcare system.
The smarter approach to healthcare is one that uses information to create real insight into patient care and organisational performance. Healthcare providers, researchers and directors can work smarter by creating comprehensive, holistic views of patient data. They can get realtime visibility into how their operations are running. And they can use wider ranging sample data to achieve more medical breakthroughs.
The innovators are tearing down silos so they can connect doctors, patients and government to share information seamlessly and securely. That means that a smarter healthcare system is optimised around the patient to increase efficiency, reduce errors, achieve better quality outcomes and save more lives.
Emergency rooms are extremely stressful and unpredictable places. Toronto East General Hospital (link resides outside of ibm.com) recently introduced a wireless communication device called the Vocera communicator, implemented with IBM (CA). It allows workers to communicate with security by simply double-tapping the device. Users can also control the device with naturally spoken commands. Vocera has reduced response time to "Code White" alarms for security incidents from two and half minutes to 59 seconds. The solution also cuts down phone tag, overhead paging and the need to physically search for a person, making it easier for staff to communicate quickly, securely and efficiently throughout the hospital.
For the 800-bed Kingston General Hospital (CA) in Ontario, Vocera is the "must have" communications tool that nurses found helped to reduce by 25% the time they spent on phone calls, paging and tracking people down, while increasing the time spent on direct patient care.
At the University of North Carolina Health System (US) (UNC), delivering better treatment to patients and improving the standard of care are top priority. To do this more efficiently, UNC needed access to data from various repositories to support a research agenda that includes cohort selection, quality improvement and disease management.
The medical centre now uses a robust data warehouse solution that unifies multiple sources, making it possible to quickly and easily access data and transforms it into actionable information. Breaking down the silos allows new lines of inquiry from broader samples of patient data, so diagnosis and treatment decisions happen faster and are evidence-based.
What else might we expect from smarter healthcare solutions?
Information isn't stranded on islands
Smarter healthcare is interconnected. Like Spain's Servicio Extremeño de Salud (US) (SES), where each location had its own patient records system. The organisation took steps to create a global platform, connecting almost 13,000 professionals with a scheduling system that manages nine million outpatient visits a year.
Analytics boost accuracy
Preventing deadly ruptures of the blood vessels in the brain is the aim of a Mayo Clinic project to help radiologists detect aneurysms with far greater speed and accuracy. The new method integrates medical knowledge and analytics in powerful algorithms that pinpoint potential problem areas within medical images and flag them based on the probability of abnormality. The algorithms developed by the Mayo Clinic and IBM collaboration, the Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Centre, have proven a 95 percent accuracy rate in detecting aneurysms, compared with 70 percent for manual interpretation.